Voters Head to the Polls for the $3 Billion Presidential Election

The Hollywood Reporter
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Political ads have been a major narrative of the 2012 presidential race: the amount of them (thanks to the 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United decision that opened the flood gates for corporations and gave rise to the Super PACS); the tone of them (overwhelmingly negative); and the sheer volume of them in battleground states (since Mitt Romney secured the Republican nomination last April, the candidates and their supporters have places more than 1.1 million ads).

So today, Americans go to the polls for the most expensive political race in history. Total spending for the 2012 race is expected to top $2.6 billion. That's a 68 percent increase over the 2008 total of $1.6 billion, according to analysis from SNL Kagan. And other analysts predict that sepnding could top $3 billion.

And with Barack Obama and Romney in a dead heat according to several national polls, spending only increased in hotly contest battleground states as Election Day has neared.

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Obama for America, the president’s official campaign committee, will have spent $72.7 million in Ohio with a spike of $9.5 million in the week leading up to the election, according to National Journal. By comparison, Romney for President funneled $42.2 million into the state with $5.5 million in the week leading up to the election. Super PACs supporting the candidates also have continued to spend in Ohio; Priorities USA Action, which supports Obama, spent nearly $17 million in Ohio, with $3.7 million (by far the most during the election) coming in the final week of campaigning. Romney’s Super PAC support in Ohio has been more diffuse but just as robust. Restore our Future, managed by 2008 Romney campaign advisor Carl Forti, has spent more than $10 million in the state with $2.4 million coming in the final week. Karl Rove and former RNC chairman Mike Duncan’s Priorities USA has spent $16.9 million in Ohio with $2.9 million in the final week. And the RNC has continued to spend in Ohio (while the DNC has not) with $2.4 million in the final week and $10 million overall.

And with $128 million through Oct. 31, according to Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group, Ohio is only third on the list of swing state spending. Florida, the site of the contested 2000 election, has taken in the most cash through Oct. 31 with $147 million; $68 million on ads supporting Obama and $79 million on ads supporting Romney. Virginia is a close second with $131 million ($60 million from Obama supporters and $71 million from Romney supporters).

Romney and his Republican supporters are slightly outspending Obama and his Democratic supporters. Overall, through Oct. 31, Obama ads have totaled $347 million, according to Kantar, while Romney ads have made up $386 million.

The increase overall also has funneled more ad dollars to Spanish-language media, with the candidates and their supporters spending eight times more than they did in 2008 to sway the nation’s 23 million Spanish-speaking voters. From April through September, the candidates and their supporters spent $16.4 million on Spanish-language advertising in key states, according to a report from the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. That’s a relatively small (less than 5 percent) sliver of total spending. But of the states analyzed (Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas and Virginia), the Obama campaign and its supporters allotted 9 percent of total ad dollars compared to 4 percent from the Romney campaign and its supporters.