WASHINGTON (AP) — Just how much does a Republican primary vote cost in ad spending? Depending on the candidate, it can vary quite a bit this election cycle.
How the ad spending breaks down:
Ad spending per vote: $12.70
Cost per delegate: $90,796
The GOP front-runner, Romney has seen more ad spending on his behalf than any of his GOP rivals. Much of that cash has come from Restore Our Future, a "super" political action committee backing his White House run. So far, the group has dropped $29 million in primary states, many times outspending Romney's own campaign, which paid for $15.8 million in ads. Based on his 495 delegate count as of Thursday, the cost per delegate and cost per vote is higher than any of his primary challengers.
Ad spending per vote: $3.01
Cost per delegate: $28,944
The former Pennsylvania senator has secured big wins in Southern states like Alabama and Mississippi, but his delegate count lags Romney's, at 252. Despite recent victories that have at times shoved Romney out of the spotlight, Santorum's campaign by comparison has spent only $3.3 million on ads. The Red, White and Blue Fund super PAC working in his favor has contributed nearly $4 million more in pro-Santorum TV spots, including an ad buy Thursday in Illinois. Santorum has the advantage cost-wise of a lean-and-mean operation, but that doesn't come without its pitfalls.
Ad spending per vote: $4.78
Cost per delegate: $76,774
Facing calls by Santorum and his supporters to drop out since early last week, Gingrich has stayed in the race — defiant at times toward fellow candidates and the news media for doubting him. His small delegate count — 131 — mirrors only about $2.9 million in ad spending. And his campaign's continuation is due in part to $7.1 million in ads from Winning Our Future, a super PAC funded mostly by casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife.
Ad spending per vote: $6.33
Cost per delegate: $129,275
The libertarian-leaning congressman from Texas has always enjoyed a broad base of supporters, who have poured enough small donations into his campaign to pay for $6 million in TV ads. His positions on government spending have also drawn big-dollar checks from wealthy supporters who share his views, including Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal, who gave $1.7 million to the Paul-leaning Endorse Liberty super PAC. That group, in turn, has run only about $163,000 in television advertising in Paul's favor but has largely focused its efforts on social media. Paul had 48 delegates by Thursday.
The Associated Press review takes into account only television advertising spending, an important currency in swaying voters this election. The explosion of super PACs, made possible in part by federal court rulings in recent years, has increased the influence of spending by independent political groups.
The AP's calculation was based upon data provided by media buyers, Federal Election Commission data and final statewide vote tallies in Republican primaries and caucuses.
Follow Jack Gillum at http://twitter.com/jackgillum