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On Election Eve, Swing State Ad Surge By Prez Contenders
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On Election Eve, Swing State Ad Surge By Prez Contenders

On the eve of the presidential election, both candidates made hefty boosts in their advertising in seven key swing states: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

On Sunday, Nov. 2, McCain ran just 708 TV ad units in those seven states — 48% fewer than the 1,463 ad units Obama ran that day. 

But on Monday, Nov. 3, Obama’s lead in these key battleground states shrank to 79% — or a margin of 1,510 ad units, after McCain’s campaign increased the number of TV ad units it ran in those states by 168%, to 1,900 units.

In comparison, Obama’s campaign ran 3,410 ad units in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia on Monday — a 133% increase from Sunday.

Both candidates continued to focus the bulk of their advertising on Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  On Monday, McCain ran 75% of his 1,900 ads (1,424 units) in those three states, while Obama ran 67% of his 3,410 ads (2,292 units) there.

State Obama:

Ad Units* (11/2/08)

Obama:

Ad Units* (11/3/08)

% Growth:

Obama Ad Units*

(11/2 Vs. 11/3)

McCain:

Ad Units* (11/2/08)

McCain:

Ad Units* (11/3/08)

% Growth:

McCain Ad Units*

(11/2 Vs. 11/3)

Colorado 150 273 82%  29 118 307% 
Florida 437 992 127%  164 541 230% 
Georgia 84 257 206%  0 28 n/a
Missouri 92 250 172%  45 136 202% 
Ohio 286 715 150%  191 439 130% 
Pennsylvania 251 585 133%  202 444 120% 
Virginia 163 338 107%  77 194 152% 
Source: The Nielsen Company (November 2 – 3, 2008).
*Note: Television advertising activity reported includes preliminary commercial occurrences for local and national broadcast TV and syndicated TV. Local cable TV advertising activity is not included.

Advertising in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia by both McCain (1,912 units) and Obama (4,119 units) peaked on Friday, Oct. 17 (6,031 combined ad units) — just two days after their final presidential debate.

In comparison, on Monday — the last day before the election — the candidates placed a combined total of 5,310 ads, falling short of their Oct. 17 combined advertising peak by 13.5%. 

For his part, McCain came within 12 ad units (6%) of his Oct. 17 advertising peak on Monday, while Obama remained 709 units (21%) shy of his highest ad unit level.

Overall, between Oct. 6 and Nov. 3, Obama placed 133% more ad units (83,903 vs. 36,070) than McCain in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Nielsen’s ad unit data shows preliminary commercial occurrences and may fluctuate from day to day, as data is updated.

Read coverage of Nielsen’s findings by Bloomberg and in The Boston Globe and the Houston Chronicle.