Ad race of 2012: Obama spot tops most frequently aired political ads

Dylan Stableford
The Ticket

The Mitt Romney campaign has spent more than $55 million on political advertising—the most of any Republican candidate this election cycle, according to OpenSecrets.org. Barack Obama has spent $63 million, a little less than half of his $136 million war chest. That doesn't include the super PACs supporting them, which have spent millions more.

The top five most aired political ads are a thematic hint of what could happen in an Obama-Romney race for the White House. "[The ads] serve as a reminder of the general election campaign that awaits beyond all the state-by-state delegate math and discussion of GOP base issues," said CMAG vice president Elizabeth Wilner.

So which campaign ads have been aired the most?

According to Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG), which tracks political advertising, the Obama campaign's "Unprecedented" ad, which debuted in January, was aired 6,190 times before Super Tuesday. The ad counters the attacks from Mitt Romney and other Republicans on Obama's involvement with Solyndra, the now bankrupt solar company that received a $535 million loan guarantee from the administration, and promotes the president's record on job growth.

The second most aired ad of the 2012 cycle is "Shovel Ready," which has run 5,057 times since it first aired in June. The spot attacks Obama's record on jobs and the economy and was produced by the Romney-supporting Crossroads GPS super PAC.

"Moral Responsibility," produced by the Romney campaign and narrated by the former Massachusetts governor, has been aired 5,006 times; "Values," sponsored by pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future, attacks Rick Santorum's voting record and has been shown 4,650 times and counting.

The fifth most aired political ad of the 2012 campaign, "14 Months," was sponsored by the Democratic National Committee and promoted Obama's jobs plan. That ad was shown 4,387 times after debuting last fall.

But let's not read too much into the rankings: Not all showings are equal—broadcast TV airings reach a lot more eyeballs than an ad shown on cable TV. And just because something has a ton of airings, doesn't mean it will have the greatest impact.

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