Romney spends more on TV ads than all other GOP candidates combined

Up until the eve of the Florida primary, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) had spent nearly eight million dollars more on television advertising than the rest of the Republican presidential field combined, according to a new study.

Romney spent $29 million on 34,821 ads, more than three and a half times as much as Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCain2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary Defending their honor as we hear their testimony MORE (Ariz.), who spent $8 million on 10,830 ads, according to an analysis of data through Jan. 27 by the University of Wisconsin Advertising Project.

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Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani spent $5.6 million on 6,856 ads, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee spent $2.6 million on 5,831 spots, and former Sen. Fred Thompson (Tenn.) bought 4,032 ads for $2.2 million.

Romney also easily outspent the two remaining contenders for the Democratic nomination. Obama spent $22.7 million on 29,866 television spots while Clinton spent $18.7 million on 25,562 ads. Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), who dropped out of the race Wednesday, spent $8.3 million on 14,731 ads.

Romney spent $87.6 million on his campaign through the end of 2007, according to a report filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). That report also showed Romney had loaned his campaign $35.4 million and had $2.4 million in cash on hand at the end of the year. Since then Romney is estimated to have loaned himself additional millions for January campaign operations in Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan, South Carolina, Nevada, and Florida. 

Altogether, the presidential candidates spent $107 million on advertising through the weekend before the Florida primary, with the Democrats spending an estimated $57 million.

Ken Goldstein, the director of the University of Wisconsin Advertising Project, said the candidates were unlikely to spend as much in states holding primaries and caucuses on Tuesday.

“Although Romney is now up and Obama has just increased his ad buy, it is extremely unlikely that spending in all 23 February 5th states — including the two largest states in the country — will reach the levels seen in Iowa and New Hampshire,” said Goldstein.

Through Jan. 27, all candidates spent only $8 million in Super Tuesday states. They spent $3 million in California alone. More than a week before the Iowa caucuses, candidates had already spent $36 million in the Hawkeye State. They had already spent $26 million in New Hampshire by Dec. 30.

Surprisingly, given the negative tenor of the Democratic and Republican campaigns in recent weeks, nearly all of the ads have been positive.

The study found that 90 percent of all ads were judged to be positive while only 10 percent highlighted contrasts between the candidates. Except for 11 ads aired by Huckabee in Iowa, the study deemed no ads to be negative. Some of the candidates themselves, however, might disagree with this finding as advisers to several campaigns have complained about opponents’ “negative advertising.”

Republican TV ads raised regularly the issues of taxes, Iraq, terrorism, abortion and immigration.

Democratic ads discussed healthcare most frequently. They also often mentioned economic issues such as housing, poverty, and jobs.

The University of Wisconsin Advertising Project based its analysis on data obtained from the TNS Media Intelligence Campaign Media Analysis Group.