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In Campaign's Final Days, Record Levels Of Money Still Driving The Message

Political history was made last night when President Obama's campaign, including affiliated Democratic Party committees, announced that it has raised in total more than $1 billion this election cycle, NPR's Peter Overby reports.

The number turned up as Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney made their final campaign finance disclosures before Election Day.

The latest reports cover just Oct. 1-17, when the Obama organization raised $90.5 million, and Romney's operation raised nearly $112 million. That brings Romney's total for the whole election cycle to $863 million. He, too, could pass $1 billion when all is said and done.

The New York Times sums it up this way: "From the beginning of 2011 through Oct. 17, Mr. Obama and the Democrats raised about $1.06 billion, and Mr. Romney and the Republicans collected $954 million, including some money for the party's Congressional efforts, setting up 2012 to be the most expensive presidential campaign in history."

And The Washington Post reports: "The hefty numbers suggest that neither side is likely to run into a cash crunch in the final 11 days of the race, as both campaigns continue to inundate swing states with broadcast ads, mailers and get-out-the-vote workers. The Obama team also reserved a $15 million line of credit."

Romney leads in the cash-on-hand battle — that is, what each campaign has to spend between now and Nov. 6. Romney's campaign had $179 million on hand; Obama's campaign had $125 million, Overby reports.

This of course doesn't take into account the outside groups like superPACs, which are contributing greatly to the TV ad wars, mostly in swing states. The Wesleyan Media Project says by Election Day, more than 1 million political ads may have aired in the United States.

Wesleyan Media Project co-director Erika Franklin Fowler says while the Obama campaign has run most of the ads supporting the president, the Romney campaign lacked the cash to keep up. That's where the outside groups came in.

"The biggest role that the outside groups have played is really to prop Mitt Romney up," she tells Overby. "Especially in September but still in October, we've seen Romney heavily reliant on those outside interest groups."

But that has played to Obama's advantage. As candidates, he and Romney are entitled to lower rates for TV ads. The outside groups pay top dollar, and in the closing days of the campaign, it's a seller's market.

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