'Political advertising in Election 2004 has been a watershed event and will change how future election campaigns are implemented.' That is the verdict of Evan Tracey, chief operating officer at TNS Media Intelligence/CMA.

And many from both sides of the political divide will agree ruefully after hearing that the Republican and Democratic parties between them spent an alltime high of over $1.45 billion (€1.13bn; £786.1m) on advertising in the year to date. It seems that perceptions rather than issues were to the fore, aided by the 'shock and awe' of the advertising bombardment.

In the period January to October, presidential election spending in measured media accounted for $601m - 42% of total US political adspend. The balance of $847m was lavished on Federal, State and local election messages, along with ballot issue advertising.

The charged political environment of election year, believes Steven Fredericks, president/ceo of the media measurement giant, "resulted in an infusion of spending in national and local media as interested parties tried to communicate their messages to the voting public".

Adds Tracey: "Advertising for both the presidential and other down ballot races was historic in size. For example: targeting undecided voters in swing states made local and cable advertising an especially important part of both campaigns' strategies and resulted in record spending in these media. Some of these voters have seen ads since last year, whereas historically ad wars were waged between June and Election Day."

When the dust has settled [which it may not until this day in 2008], the inhabitants of Planet Earth may ponder if a battle of advertising and media-planning skills is the best way to ensure getting the "right man into the right job at the right time".

Or, perhaps, if current speculation as to the next Democratic nominee, is realized, the right woman?

Data sourced from MRweb (UK); additional content by WARC staff