Atlanta (CNN) – Heading into the Michigan and Arizona primaries Tuesday night, the two leading men for the Republican presidential nomination benefited heavily from air cover paid for by independent political organizations created to promote their candidacies.
In Michigan, the Restore our Future Fund super PAC spent nearly $2 million in seven media markets to try and persuade Republicans to vote for Mitt Romney, according to a new analysis by Kantar Media, CNN's consultant on political television advertising. The Red White and Blue Fund super PAC, which is backing Rick Santorum for president, dedicated $1.4 million to air TV ads in six media markets.
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Romney and Santorum also dug into their own campaign coffers to pay for commercials in Michigan. The former Massachusetts governor spent nearly $1.2 million in five media markets and the ex-senator dedicated about $750,000 to air ads in four markets.
Some 2,000 miles to the west, Restore Our Future owned the television airwaves. This super PAC paid $567,000 to run commercials in three Arizona media markets to help Romney, according to the Kantar Media analysis. Romney, Santorum and the Red White and Blue Fund super PAC did not buy any TV ads in Arizona.
Looking ahead to Super Tuesday, Restore Our Future is weighing in on the race in four states. It has spent more than $800,000 in Georgia, $714,000 in Ohio, $214,000 in Oklahoma and $533,000 in Tennessee, Kantar Media estimates. So far, the Red, White and Blue Fund has spent only $69,000 in one Super Tuesday state: Ohio. And Romney has run about $250,000 in TV ads in Ohio, while Santorum has not spent any money on TV commercials in these states.
But as we head into March 6th, look for the number of TV commercials to increase in a number of key Super Tuesday states as the candidates and super PACs pour more money into ads including the super PAC backing Newt Gingrich – Winning Our Future – which will try to breathe new life into his campaign.