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On Cable, Obama Deluges Pa. with Ads

By Matthew Mosk
As the Democratic candidates for president close in on Pennsylvania primary day, Sen. Barack Obama continues to vastly outspend Sen. Hillary Clinton on television advertising in the state, an imbalance that is allowing him to pursue voters on specialty channels such as ESPN and MTV, where Clinton has no presence.

In Philadelphia alone, Obama spent $1.4 million last week on broadcast networks and cable, while Clinton spent $547,000, according to new figures gathered by National Cable Communications in Washington. In cable spots pre-ordered for the final week of campaigning, Obama has reserved $465,000 worth of ads, while Clinton has reserved $91,000.

Tim Kay, the director for political strategy at NCC, said an analysis of cable spending showed Obama has averaged more than 5,600 spots per week in Pennsylvania -- most of them on cable stations -- while Clinton has aired about 2,400 spots per week. Both candidates have focused the vast majority of their resources on viewers in and around Philadelphia. Obama also spent considerably more on cable spots in rural areas -- he out spent Clinton seven-to-one, for instance, in the Youngstown market in the southwestern part of the state.

Obama's bigger budget, which is likely the product of his 2 to 1 edge in fundraising last month, has also enabled him to reach voters through a broad spectrum of cable stations, from the predominately female viewers of the Soap Opera channel, to the younger viewers of MTV, to the conservative viewers of the Fox News channel, to the largely male audiences of ESPN and ESPN2. Clinton's ads have appeared along with Obama's on the 24-hour news networks and on stations such as the Food Network, Lifetime and the Family Channel.

Cable television has represented a far greater share of political spending on television this year, according to Kay. Figures show presidential candidates spent $2.2 million on cable ads between August 2003 and March of 2004. In just the past year, between March of 2007 and March 2008, presidential candidates have spent $18.4 million on cable commercials.

By Web Politics Editor  |  April 15, 2008; 12:39 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , Hillary Rodham Clinton , The Elements of Advertising  
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