Obama’s Airwave Invasion

Obama's campaign will run advertisements for half an hour on three major networks

By Niall Lennon

Barack Obama is set to dominate American television tonight by running a 30 minute political advert on three of the nations main networks.

The adverts, which will be shown at 20:00 eastern time, is said to be costing the Obama campaign in the region of $6m, making the adverts the most expensive piece of political advertising in the history of the United States. This once again has brought the Obama team under the spotlight and seems to be giving more weight to the argument that he has dominated the US media throughout this election process.

Senator Obama’s Campaign is believed to have raised the unprecedented amount of about $660m since he started his bid for president, double the amount Senator McCain’s team have raised. Most of Obama’s television campaigns up until this point have focused on local television in predominantly Republican areas, such as the east coast states of North Carolina, Virginia and Florida.

$150m of Obama’s campaign funds are said to have been spent in local TV markets and $30m on national ads on network and cable TV. It is also believed by the end of October he will have spent $100m on television campaigns for this month alone. Quite a significant amount compared to the $13m Senator McCain’s team have spent on television campaigning throughout the whole process.

This political television advertising format was also used back in 1992 when independent candidate Ross Perot ran a series of advertisements running for a half hour at a time. This style of campaigning was abandoned however, largely due to the shear cost of the adverts, but also because political commentators believed that this format would not hold the attention of American public for the full broadcast.

Obama’s half hour advertisements will be focusing on the two key domestic issues that seem to have been the main topics of debate during this final leg of the presidential battle, energy and taxes. Obama’s manifesto states that he wants to invest in alternative fuels and redistribute America’s wealth, promising tax cuts for households earning less than $250,000 per year, his main pledge on the matter being ‘I want to raise up the middle classes’.

Criticism has also been received on both sides throughout the presidential race due to the underhanded nature of some of the advertisements put out there by both sides to deliberately tarnish the name of their opponents raising questions of ethics. McCain’s team outweighed the Democrats however in the smear campaign, with 47% of their advertisements seen to be negative compared to 35% of obama’s adverts seen to be damning of McCain.