On Dec. 10, the 2008 presidential campaign hit a significant milestone: the first $1 million dollar day in TV spending. What makes this day so extraordinary is the majority of this spending is not from groups, but from the candidates. The spending is largely aimed at voters in just two states and the ads are, for the most part, positive. Further, this amount takes into account only broadcast TV.
A quick examination of the numbers tells us a few things. First, the Hillary Clinton campaign is letting the wallet do the talking with $275,000 a day of ad spending in New Hampshire (where prices are driven up by the Boston market) and Iowa. Sen. Barack Obama, one of Clinton's main competitors, is deploying his resources to Iowa, New Hampshire and some South Carolina but on a somewhat smaller scale, around $100,000 less. Former Sen. John Edwards is spending less than Obama, and has focused his ad spending on Iowa and South Carolina.
On the Republican side, Mitt Romney is still leading the TV ad wars in two categories: the number of states and the total dollars spent, with just under $250K a day in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida. Sen. John McCain and Rudy Giuliani continue to spend heavily in and around New Hampshire with around $150,000 a day apiece. Mike Huckabee, who has had a recent surge in the polls, is spending a paltry sum of $10,000 a day in Iowa. Fred Thompson, Ron Paul and Tom Tancredo continue to plug away with buys in the early states as wells.
So mark down Dec. 10 on the calendar; it will be something to win future bar-stool bets. It was the first day with $1 million-plus in TV political spending, but it won't be the last. Submit your prediction now for the first $2 million dollar day. I have Jan. 2 in the pool.
Evan Tracey is the founder and chief operating officer of Campaign Media Analysis Group, a TNS Media Intelligence company.