Gingrich vs. Romney Heats Up

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The resurrection of Newt Gingrich -- who pummeled heretofore front-runner Mitt Romney in the Jan. 21 South Carolina Republican primary -- already is directing millions of dollars in local television advertising to Florida, the next GOP battleground on Jan. 31. Media analyst SNL Kagan estimates that a primary-high $20 million-plus will pour in to Florida stations as candidates (and super PACs) unleash a torrent of ads designed to sway voters. So far, stations aren't earning as much as they did during the 2008 election, which had both Republican and Democratic primaries. But South Carolina stations, which took in an estimated $13.5 million in primary ads in 2008, were close, with $12 million this time. Once the GOP nominee is named, stations can expect campaigns and advocacy groups to increase their targeted spending. (Data on past presidential elections puts roughly 60 percent of spending in the fourth quarter.) Meanwhile, analysts expect the former House speaker to be targeted in ads in Florida, as in Iowa and South Carolina. In Iowa, 51 percent of political spots focused on him, according to Kantar Media; the majority of ads (45 percent) attacked him while 6 percent were positive. More than one in five South Carolina ads aired Jan. 10-16 targeted Gingrich, with almost twice as many negative spots as positive.


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