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Inside Politics

Grind extra: The (Hawk)eye of the storm

By Robert Yoon
CNN Political Unit

Dean leads the field in Iowa-area TV spending so far this year, having spent an estimated $1.1 million.
Dean leads the field in Iowa-area TV spending so far this year, having spent an estimated $1.1 million.

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• The Candidates: Bush | Kerry
Morning Grind

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Political pundits and coffee shop waitresses across the Hawkeye State will tell you that Iowa is an "organization state" -- that you can't win with TV ads alone. But that hasn't stopped that plucky band of Democratic presidential hopefuls from pouring more TV ad money into Iowa than in any other state in the nation.

In fact, of the estimated $8.2 million spent so far this year by the presidential campaigns in the nation's top 100 media markets, almost half has been spent in Iowa, according to figures provided by TNS Media Intelligence/CMAG (CMAG), CNN's equally plucky ad spending consultant.

"Iowa is the center of the advertising storm. This is where it's going on," says Wisconsin Advertising Project director Ken Goldstein, who later this morning will release a detailed study of this year's presidential ad spending, based on CMAG data through last Sunday. The campaigns have spent twice as much and aired three times as many ads in Iowa than in New Hampshire this year, which Goldstein notes is a complete turnabout from the 2000 contest, when New Hampshire ad spending trumped that of Iowa.

The intensity of the Iowa ad war this year suggests that the first-in-the-nation caucus state could finally make some news after several consecutive cycles of outright snoozers.

"The other Democrats need to stop Howard Dean in Iowa," says Goldstein. "If Dean beats Dick Gephardt in Iowa, Gephardt's out. If John Kerry comes in a poor third, it will be hard for him to come back in New Hampshire."

Dean leads the field in Iowa-area TV spending so far this year, with an estimated $1.1 million spent in the Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Des Moines, and Omaha (Nebraska) markets.  Placing second and third are Kerry and John Edwards, who each spent almost $1 million in the top Iowa markets.  Gephardt, who shares the top spot in most Iowa polls with Dean, is fourth with about $750,000 spent in Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Des Moines.

"Dean went up with ads earlier than anyone else, and drew a lot of people to spend in Iowa," says CMAG president Evan Tracey. "In Iowa, [Dean] is pulling Gephardt into a game that [Gephardt's] not going to want to be a part of."

Other key findings:

• Dean has spent an estimated $2.8 million on TV advertising in the nation's top 100 markets so far this year, more than any other candidate. Coming in at second is  Edwards, who forked over an estimated $2.2 million in those same markets; Kerry placed third with an estimated $1.8 million

• Kerry has a significant lead in the top New Hampshire area markets of Manchester, Boston and Burlington with an estimated $830,000. 

• Edwards has made a significant investment in TV advertising, spending the second most of any candidate in New Hampshire and nationwide, and a close third in Iowa.

• Dean has had the broadest ad campaign of the Democratic field, having run ads this year in 14 of the top 100 media markets, spanning 11 states.  Edwards once again comes in second, having run spots in eight of the top 100 markets in five states. Kerry is a close third with ads in seven of the top markets (also in five states). Lieberman has run ads to two top markets, both in the New Hampshire area, while Clark, as of last Sunday, had focused his ad campaign in one top market: Manchester (his campaign reports expanding to three new states this week).

Although the presidential ad traffic in these key markets is already more intense than at this point in 2000, things will only get worse (or better, depending on which end of a negative ad you find yourself on) as we inch closer to January 19.

Says Goldstein, "You ain't seen nothing yet."

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