NEW YORK — Broadcasters looking to politics to swell their coffers this year are off to a lively start: Democratic presidential hopefuls spent more than $21 million on TV ads in the current 2004 cycle, led by Howard Dean. The real battle hasn’t yet begun, as deep-pocketed Republicans have barely touched their wallets.
As of Friday, Dean had plowed about $6.6 million into 14,066 campaign commercials. He dropped $4 million in the last month alone, of which $2.8 million was spent in Iowa, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Wisconsin Advertising Project at the U. of Wisconsin-Madison.
John Kerry spent $4.1 million, John Edwards $3.3 million and Richard Gephardt nearly $3 million. Wesley Clark has forked out $2.4 million and Joe Lieberman about $1.6 million.
In Iowa, Edwards and Gephardt are the top spenders, after Dean, leading up to Monday’s caucuses. Clark, who’s skipping Iowa, has outspent the other candidates in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Oklahoma, according to the report, which includes a summary and analysis of all political broadcast TV advertising in 2003 and ’04.
The New Hampshire presidential primary is Jan. 27. Primaries will take place in South Carolina, Oklahoma and a handful of other states Feb. 3.
The Republican and Democratic national committees have been largely quiet on the ad front.
The independent anti-Bush group MoveOn.Org has aired more than $3 million worth of TV ads and announced plans to spend more than triple that amount in the coming months.
Gubernatorial races across the nation accounted for more than $75 million in political TV advertising last year, with a whopping $53 million of that generated in California as Arnold Schwarzenegger swept away incumbent Gov. Gray Davis. The Davis recall election pushed L.A. to the top of the list of the 10 biggest markets for political ad spending last year, with a total take of $36.7 million.
Seniors groups and pharmaceutical companies dominated political issue ad spending last year. The American Assn. of Retired Persons spent more than $9.3 million, largely to support a Medicare prescription drug plan.