Gingrich bearing the brunt of negative ads in South Carolina

The majority of Republican campaign ads running on TV in South Carolina in recent days have been positive. Yet there have been attacks— and they've most been aimed at Newt Gingrich.

According to Kantar Media's CMAG, which analyzes political advertising, 54 percent of all campaign ads aired on broadcast television nationwide between Jan. 10 and Jan. 16 were positive in tone. Forty-six percent of the ads running in the Palmetto State were tonally negative.

But that ratio could change quickly. In Iowa, GOP advertising was largely positive--that is, until the weekend before the caucuses, when campaigns and their related super PACs turned up the heat on their opponents in an 11th hour attempt to secure votes. The South Carolina primary is Saturday.

In the last week, more than one in five campaign ads airing in the state were attacks aimed at Gingrich, while just 12 percent of Gingrich-focused ads were positive.

The former House Speaker was subject to roughly double the amount of negative campaign ads that Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney was, according to CMAG. About 11 percent of all GOP spots running in South Carolina targeted Romney, while 13 percent were positive.

"Republican primary voters in South Carolina are getting a much closer look at former Senator Rick Santorum via advertising than did caucus-goers in Iowa or primary voters in New Hampshire," CMAG president Ken Goldstein wrote in an email announcing the study's results. More than a quarter of GOP ads airing in South Carolina were focused on Santorum: 16 percent were positive, 10 percent were negative.

And as it was in Iowa and New Hampshire, Rep. Ron Paul has been largely ignored by his opponents in South Carolina. Paul was the focus of less than one percent of GOP attacks on TV.

Likewise, Rick Perry, who effectively skipped New Hampshire to focus on South Carolina, doesn't appear to be seen as a threat by GOP rivals. The Perry campaign has seen the same percentage of attack ads as Paul's camapaign.

While the estimated $11 million spent on ads in South Carolina will likely fall short of 2008's $13.5 million (when both Republicans and Democrats were campaigning for presidential nominations), CMAG is forecasting that the volume of campaign commercials will surpass 2008, when more than 17,000 ads aired.

Campaign Ads in South Carolina, Jan. 10-Jan. 16, 2012

Newt Gingrich
21.69% | NEGATIVE: 12.14%

Ron Paul
0.90% | NEGATIVE: 7.79%

Rick Perry
0.90% | NEGATIVE: 6.89%

Mitt Romney
12.61% | NEGATIVE: 11.43%

Rick Santorum
9.62% | NEGATIVE: 16.01%

45.74% | NEGATIVE: 54.26%


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