A detailed examination of the money being spent by the Republican presidential candidates on television ads produces a somewhat surprising result: Texas Rep. Ron Paul is spending the most money on commercials in early states.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry finished a close second with $509,000 spent, the vast majority of that — about $452,000 — in Iowa. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney , the favorite for the nomination, spent a surprisingly pedestrian $387,000 in the week leading up to Christmas including just $227,000 in Iowa.
Of course, both Romney and Perry are being helped — in a major way — by super PACs supporting them.
Restore Our Future, the Romney super PAC, spent almost $750,000 on television ads last week including a massive $603,000 in Iowa. Make Us Great Again, Perry’s super PAC, spent $581,000 with the lion’s share of that money — $315,000 — going to ads in South Carolina. Taken together, Romney and his super PAC spent $1.1 million on ads last week. Perry and his super PAC spent a similar amount.
Paul does not have any super PAC operating on his behalf.
Other affiliated super PACs are spending — though far less than Restore Our Future or Make Us Great Again. The Red White & Blue Fund, which is supporting former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum , dropped $150,000 in Iowa while Our Destiny PAC, which is backing former Utah governor Jon Huntsman , spent $144,000 in New Hampshire.
All told, candidates spent $1.24 million on Iowa ads and nearly $1.7 million on ads across all early states in the week leading up to Christmas. Super PACs spent just over $1 million on commercials in Iowa and just over $1.6 million on total ads during that same time period.
Paul’s ad spending has not been that well documented but is also not terribly surprising. Even in his 2008 race — when he failed to get the sort of traction he has gained this time around — Paul was able to raise tens of millions of dollars.
As of the end of September, Paul had raised almost $13 million and had $3.7 million in the bank. Because Paul raises so much of his money online, he is able to keep the cost of collecting it relatively low — thus allowing him to spend most of it on things like television ads.
What Paul’s spending suggests is that he has plenty of money to spare and that he isn’t likely to simply disappear if he doesn’t win Iowa tonight. That will cheer his supporters and irk his rivals.