For Newt Gingrich, South Carolina is deja vu all over again.
The former House speaker is once again the biggest target of negative TV ads in the GOP presidential race, just as he was in the run-up to the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses.
An analysis of campaign ad spending by Kantar Media/CMAG shows that over the past week, 22 percent of all broadcast TV ads aired in South Carolina have been negative spots targeting Gingrich. By nearly two-to-one, negative ads on the former House speaker have outnumbered positive ones (12 percent of all TV ads aired).
For former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who is vying with Gingrich to be the top choice among social conservatives, the situation is reversed: 16 percent of all TV ads aired in South Carolina over the past week were positive ads about Santorum, while only 10 percent were negative ones.
That’s a sign that Santorum — who narrowly lost the Iowa caucuses to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney — is still focused on introducing himself to South Carolina voters. It’s also a reminder that Gingrich, for all the praise he’s received for his debate performance Monday night, still faces tough odds when it comes to overcoming the barrage of negative ads he faces.
Romney, the current front-runner in the Palmetto State polls, has seen more of an even split in TV ads: 11 percent of all TV ads over the past week were positive spots on Romney, while 13 percent featured him negatively.
Candidates and the groups backing them have run almost no negative ads against Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry , showing that they don’t view the two Texans as much of a threat.
About 2 percent of all ads aired last week were negative spots aimed at either Paul or Perry. Eight percent of all ads were positive spots on Paul, while 7 percent were positive Perry spots.
Notably, for South Carolina’s reputation as a place where GOP primary campaigns turn ugly, more positive ads have been aired over the past week than negative ads: 46 percent of the ads tracked by Kantar were negative, while 54 percent were positive.
ALSO CLICK: The Washington Post’s Campaign Ad Tracker for the latest on the GOP presidential primary ads run this cycle.