By USA TODAY
The presidential race's ad wars are breaking campaign records, with more than 915,000 commercials aired on broadcast and cable stations since President Obama and Mitt Romney began competing against each other in earnest.
The Wesleyan Media Project, which tracks political advertising, says in a new report released Wednesday that more ads have aired so far than in all of 2008 and 2004.
The 915,000 commercials that aired from June 1 to Oct. 21 represents a 44.5% jump over the same period in 2008 and about 44% more than what aired through this time in 2004.
"When all is said and done, 2012 will go down as a record pulverizing year for political advertising," said Erika Franklin Fowler, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project.
"We've already surpassed the total number of president ads aired during the entire 2008 campaign -- and we still have two weeks to go before Election Day."
The ads are running in fewer markets than in 2008, she said, which means a small number of Americans have been seeing these ads.
Denver, Las Vegas, Tampa, Cleveland, Orlando, the District of Columbia, and Miami are the top markets this year for campaign ads, according to Wesleyan's research. Each market has aired at least 7,500 presidential ads so far in the general election.
Obama's campaign is the top spender, pumping in more than $65.3 million and airing more than 97,000 ads. Romney comes in second, spending $30.3 million on nearly 43,000 ads. Romney's presidential campaign has been helped by ads paid for by independent groups and super PACs, such as American Crossroads that was founded by Bush strategist Karl Rove.