IOWA PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION AD SPENDING HIGHEST EVER

Candidate Outlays Expected to Top $100 Per Voter

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- On the eve of Monday's Iowa Democratic caucuses, a new study says Democratic Party ad spending aimed at state residents has already exceeded $90 per Iowa caucus voter.

The study, done by the University of Wisconsin, tracks electoral campaign advertising spending. Ken Goldstein, director of the Wisconsin Advertising Project, estimated that spending would top $100 per caucus voter by Monday. Through Jan. 9, $21 million has been spent overall in ad buys in Iowa.

Highest ever seen
He said that level of spending in Iowa is the highest he has ever seen in a presidential race, though he has seen some similarly lofty spending in local races, including Republican Michael Bloomberg's run for New York City mayor and the New Jersey U.S. Senate contest that elected Democrat Jon S. Corzine.

"You are talking about advertising at the level of the [whole] Iowa Senate race two years ago for a Democratic race where one of five Democrats will vote and Democrats make up one in three Iowa voters," he said. "It's significantly more spending than in previous elections."

Spending in Iowa has been far higher than in New Hampshire, and Iowa voters have seen twice as many campaign ads as New Hampshire voters, the study said.

Year's highest ad spending
While the $21 million spent in Iowa is substantial, the study said the most spent in political advertising for 2003 wasn't on the presidential race but on the California recall race.

There, supporters and opponents of former California Gov. Grey Davis spent $53 million.

According to the ad project's tally, the biggest spender in the Democratic presidential race was former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean's campaign ($6.6 million), followed by the campaign of Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry ($4.1 million), who each chose not to receive government matching funds because of the spending curbs that come with acceptance.

North Carolina Sen. John Edwards at $3.3 million and Missouri Rep. Richard Gephardt at $3 million come next.

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