GOP primary nears $80 million price tag

White House candidates and their allies buying for March and beyond.

The Republican friendly fire count is about to hit nine digits. Spending by the presidential candidates and their allied Super PACs will soon top $80 million and the financial bleeding is foreseen to continue. Michigan and Arizona are up next week with Super Tuesday on the horizon. 

Mitt Romney's camp is already planning for March. In addition to its Michigan and Arizona buys, Restore Our Future PAC, the governor's independent ally, has bought time in Ohio. ROF, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich’s ally -- Winning our Future PAC -- have also booked media buys in other Super Tuesday states, including Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Tennessee.     

As of Friday, Republicans have spent a combined total of $77.8 million on broadcast, cable and radio advertising for the presidential primary (see full list of spenders below). Michigan alone has seen $7.2 million invested there, while Arizona has seen about $1 million.

Smart Media Group’s ad tracking goes back to last summer when the first round of GOP primary spending began. Leading up to the Iowa Straw Poll in August, Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul together spent $1.8 million on advertising in Iowa. By Jan. 3 there had been $16.5 million spent on advertising in the state. 

One week later, as voters headed to the polls for the first primary, advertisers poured $5.4 million into New Hampshire. After the New Hampshire primary, a flood of new advertisers began to crop up in South Carolina. After the dust settled, $12.4 million had been dropped on the first Southern primary.   

In the week leading up to Florida, Team Romney and Team Gingrich continued to buy time and duke it out over the airwaves there. They were the only camps to do so -- both Santorum and Paul (and their supporters) stayed out the expensive state. Florida received $21.2 million dollars from a handful of advertisers. 

Other states are now lining up for their own disbursements from the candidates.  

Sarah Stone is a research analyst with Smart Media Group. She specializes in tracking campaign spending for SMG’s clients. When she’s not analyzing the competition’s political spending, she assists with building media plans and functions as the firm’s resident cartographer. 

A version of this post was also published on Smart Media Group’s blog, Smart Blog.

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