The Republican presidential candidates were on their way to South Carolina Wednesday, but Mitt Romney in particular is looking even farther ahead: to the Florida primary on Jan. 31.


Mitt Romney appears with Republican leaders during a campaign appearance at Conchita Foods Inc. in Miami, Nov. 29, 2011. From left are U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Romney. (JOE SKIPPER/REUTERS)

The former Massachusetts governor’s campaign reported Wednesday that it raised $24 million in the last three months of 2011, likely outstripping all his rivals. His financial advantage will likely be be most useful in large states like Florida where he will be able to purchase the television advertising needed to reach most voters.

Romney and the “super PAC” backing him are the biggest spenders in the race so far. Combined, they are responsible for more than $1.5 million in estimated spending on television ads for the week ending Sunday, according to data from Kantar Media/CMAG. That’s more than all the other contenders and their super PACs combined.

Almost half of that money, $685,000 was spent in Florida, according to Kantar’s estimates, which don’t include buys with local cable networks. Romney was the only candidate on the air in Florida as of Sunday and he’s already spent $1 million, including on a Spanish-language ad.

Romney is leading the latest polls in South Carolina and carries a strong tail wind of momentum out of New Hampshire. Assuming another win in South Carolina, a blowout in the Sunshine State at the end of January could become a coronation.

The Romney campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.