Clinton, Obama Nosing Around CBS for National Ad Buys

But Spending Ahead of Super Tuesday May Be Lower Than Expected

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- Both Hillary Clinton's and Barack Obama's campaigns have started asking about buying time on broadcast TV networks. Despite that, there are indications that the pace of political ad spending might not live up to expectations.

The Clinton campaign sought information about a mid-January buy in CBS shows including "Rules of Engagement," "CSI Miami," "NCIS," "60 Minutes" and "CBS Sunday Morning" but didn't follow through. The Obama campaign has asked about availability this week and next for "60 Minutes," "The Early Show" and "CBS Sunday Morning."

Rudy Giuliani's campaign buy of two spots on "Fox News Sunday" this year was the first by any presidential candidate on network TV in at least 12 years.

High expectations
With more than 20 states slated to hold primaries and caucuses Feb. 5, network buys may be one of the easiest ways to reach voters ahead of "Super Duper Tuesday." And political observers and media trackers expected both Democrats and Republicans to be spending aggressively ahead of the date.

While Clinton and Obama are doing just that, Republicans appear to be falling way short of projections. Unless there are drastic changes, overall post-New Hampshire spending could be closer to $50 million than $80 million, with $40 million of that on the Democratic side.

As of last Thursday, except for Ron Paul, Republican candidates were advertising only in Florida, which will hold its GOP primary on Tuesday. The Paul campaign was also advertising in Texas, which comes later in the cycle. On Sunday, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee began running national ads on CNN.

"It's still the tale of two races. The Democrats aren't waiting to [hear from] South Carolina to start spending in the Super Tuesday states, while the Republicans puddle jump from primary to primary," said Evan Tracey, chief operating officer of TNS Media Intelligence's Campaign Media Analysis Group.
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