If Mitt Romney wins in Alabama and/or Mississippi tonight, you will hear a lot of talk about GOP elected officials in these two states supporting Mitt, Republicans voting for Mitt because they are unhappy with the extended nominating contest, and the division of the non-Romney vote between Gingrich and Santorum.
All of these could indeed be factors in a Romney win. But let’s don’t forget the role played by Mitt’s best friend, the Almighty Dollar.
The available estimates of ad investments in the two states by the campaigns (very little) and their Super-PACs (a lot) all show that Romney is again dominating the airwaves.
Bloomberg’s Greg Giroux has a roundup based on data from the media tracking outfit CMAG:
Restore Our Future, a super-PAC backing Romney, aired ads 2,098 times in Alabama through March 11, compared with 279 spots from Romney’s campaign, according to CMAG.
Winning Our Future, which supports Gingrich, aired ads 411 times in Alabama, compared with 131 ads by Gingrich’s campaign. Santorum’s campaign hasn’t aired broadcast ads in Alabama; the Red White and Blue Fund that backs him aired ads 282 times.
In Mississippi, Restore Our Future paid for 1,548 ads, compared with 454 for Winning Our Future and 300 for Red White and Blue Fund, CMAG data show. Gingrich, with 89 spots, is the only candidate who has aired broadcast ads in Mississippi.
Restore Our Future aired 65 percent of all ads in Alabama and Mississippi, CMAG data show.
For those keeping score at home, this adds up to a 4-1 pro-Romney ratio over Gingrich in Alabama, and nearly 3-1 in Mississippi. Team Romney outgunned Santorum’s Super-PAC over 7-1 in Alabama and more than 5-1 in Mississippi.
An AP estimate of ad dollars showed Romney’s Restore Our Future spending $1.42 in Alabama (supplemented by $233,000 by the campaign itself) and $973,000 in Mississippi. That compares with a combined pro-Gingrich $538,000 in AL and $250,000 in MS, with Santorum’s Super-PAC spending $275,00 in AL and $235,000 in MS.
Any way you slice it, Mitt’s message is visiting television sets a lot more often than both major opponents combined. So yeah, it wouldn’t be a big shock if he gets a third of the vote and claims victory.