WASHINGTON (CNN) - Polls show Republicans John McCain and Mitt Romney neck-and-neck heading into Florida's primary, but the two aren't nearly as close when it comes to television ad spending there.
Romney has outspent McCain nearly 3-to-1 in the crucial early voting state, according to just released numbers from TNS Media Intelligence/Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG), CNN's ad consultant on ad spending.
The former Massachusetts governor has spent close to $5.3 million in the state on roughly 5,700 spots, according to the new numbers. That compares to the approximately $1.9 million McCain has spent on 2,300 spots.
Rudy Giuliani, who has heavily focused his resources on Florida alone, has spent close to $3 million there on 4,000 spots.
But despite the overall disparity in spending between McCain and Romney, the two have nearly spent equal amounts over the last week - a sign both candidates now view a win in Florida as crucial to their presidential bids.
McCain's entire $1.9 million worth of television ads in the state came between January 21-28, following a momentum boost from wins in the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries. Romney, who started advertising in the state much earlier than McCain, has spent roughly the same amount as the Arizona senator there over the last week. Giuliani, meanwhile, spent about $1.1 million on ads over during that time period.
Since Florida has a much larger populatiion than any of the previous early-voting states, a candidate's ad presence is likely to have more of an impact.
"Of the early states, Florida is the most media-driven," Tracey said. "There's a lot of ground to cover. You can't cover all the state, this is when advertising matters."
- CNN Producer Alexander Mooney