Republicans Outspend Democrats on TV Advertising, But Have Fewer Ads to Show for It

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When it comes to spending on political ads, money isn't everything.

Data from Kantar Media's CMAG, an ad tracking firm, showed that during the week of Oct. 4-Oct. 11 Mitt Romney, the RNC and Republican outside groups combined to outspend President Obama and his allies on on TV ads by about $5 million - $31.6 million to $28.05 million.

Even so, the Democrats had more about 5,000 more ads on television.

How is this possible?

Rules covering campaign spending mandate that candidates are able to buy air time cheaper than outside groups.

Almost all the advertising bought by Democrats was purchased by the Obama campaign, while more than half of the GOP spending was by outside groups like SuperPACs. Buying at certain times of day and reserving time early also help to save campaigns money.

Here's what it looks like on the ground.

Last week in Tampa, the Obama campaign spent $1.57 million on TV ads, which bought 1,532 Obama ads. Republican special interest groups spent over $1.2 million that same week, but it only bought them 659 ads.

This pattern in Tampa was replicated in multiple battleground media markets like Cincinnati, Charlottesville, Va. and Madison, Wis.

Why does this matter? As the outside groups like Restore Our Future and American Crossroads talk of flexing their spending muscle in these waning days of the campaign, it's important to remember that those dollars don't stretch as far as the same dollars spent by the candidates themselves.