The 2012 Presidential election pitted the incumbent Barack Obama against the former Governor of Massachusetts and Republican opponent, Mitt Romney. Fresh off of a historic first term as the United States’ first and only African-American President, Obama was looking to secure another four years in the White House. The public faces of these campaigns, however, blocked from the view of the important, behind the scenes role of political consultants. The political consulting industry has come to be a main feature of campaigns. In the 2012 Presidential election, “consulting firms billed federal candidates, parties and super PACs more than $3.6 billion for products and services. Of this, more than seventy percent went to firms specializing in the production and placement of media.” The amount spent, both from the campaigns and from outside organizations, far exceeded spending on the placement of advertisements that occurred in previous elections. Researchers from Wesleyan University found that “spending by groups in support of the GOP nominee in 2012 is up over 3,000 percent from 2008.” Many of these outside groups also hire consultants and other staff to produce, place, and run advertisements. This includes the background work of message testing, polling, electorate research, and other work that political consultants and outside firms typically conduct. Somewhere along the way, campaign ads have been shaped by the influence of a political consultant. And what type of ads were being placed in 2012? According to the data, attack ads constituted 63 percent of ads placed supporting Obama and 61 percent ads supporting Romney.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Political consultants -- United States; Advertising, Political -- United States

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Seaver College


Political Science

Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Sopher, Christopher