Forget for a moment whether of not they were true, and that one of them earned the title of "Lie of the Year" today. When it came to the biggest expenditure of his presidential campaign — TV ads — the technocratic and data-loving Mitt Romney allowed his campaign, plainly and simply, to waste a lot of money. In the last full week of the campaign, Romney and his super PAC spent 30 percent more than President Obama and his super PAC, but aired fewer ads in top markets, The Washington Post's Tom Hamburger reports. Obama and his allies aired 50,000 more ads than Romney and his allies between June and Election Day. Obama beat Romney in important markets and demographic groups. Obama aired 13,232 ads on Spanish-language TV, while Romney aired 3,435.
The data comes from research from the nonpartisan Campaign Media Analysis Group, which shared its data with the campaigns and reporters. Before the election was even over, reporters and Republicans had noticed that Romney's ad buying strategy — an in-house firm that often contracted the firms of campaign officials — had led to Romney paying way more for way less. Politico noticed in early October that if you looked at ad buys from the two campaigns on key shows in key markets, Romney spent way more. Over three days in September, Obama bought ads on a station in Columbus, Ohio — to air during Wheel of Fortune — for $500 each. Romney spent $2,800 per ad on the same show on the same station. Obama also had more control over his campaign's message. His campaign was responsible for 86 percent of Democratic ads, while Romney was responsible for just 36 percent of Republican ads.
And you can't make the case that Romney's ads were better. They were boring, and conservatives like Peggy Noonan said so. The ones that got the most attention were those that were false — like the welfare ad or the one claiming Jeep was sending jobs to China, which just earned PolitiFact's dubious award. Romney's hired Mad Men-style ad guru Vinny Minchillo claimed his team "reinvented political advertising," but it seems their chief innovation was in blowing money.
All the waste seems especially strange given that Romney pitched himself as a turnaround expert who could cut waste in government just as he had in struggling businesses. "It is puzzling that people with such talent could produce such disappointing results," former Bain partner Marc Wolpow told the Post.