They will battle it out in New Hampshire on Jan. 10, and are likely
to head to South Carolina's Jan. 21 contest and compete in
Florida's Jan. 31 primary.
Although Rep. Michele Bachman, R-Minn., has dropped out of the
race, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and
former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman are still running.
Florida could settle the volatile race much the way it
essentially sealed the Republican nomination four years ago for
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
The high-stakes contest is expected to be very expensive.
Florida has 10 media markets, and it's estimated it costs a
campaign more than $1.5 million a week to air an ad statewide.
According to the Center for Public Integrity, candidates spent
nearly $4 million to air ads in Iowa, and the super PACs spent more
than $10 million. Advertising dollars are now flowing into New
Hampshire, and Mr. Goldstein said much more money is going to South
Carolina. But spending in Florida is expected to dwarf those buys
and will begin soon, especially when campaigns fine-tune their
messaging after the New Hampshire and South Carolina races.
"We expect a lot of money is going to be spent in a short period
of time," said Ray Karczewski of Harrington, Richter & Parsons,
who sells advertising time for Miami's WSVN, a Fox station, and
Orlando's WKFC, a Hearst station.
Mr. Romney's 30-second "Leader " ad began airing the day after
the Iowa caucuses, selling Mr. Romney as a candidate of "steadiness
and constancy" and insinuating that Mr. Gingrich is not.
Restore Our Future, a super PAC supporting Mr. Romney, has also
begun its attacks in the Sunshine State, spending more than
$530,000 to run an attack ad aimed at Mr. Gingrich. Called "Happy,"
it slams the former congressional leader for his personal and
political "baggage" and has been credited for the erosion of
support for Mr. Gingrich in Iowa. Restore Our Future has also spent
about $90,000 on direct mail attacking Mr. Gingrich and is likely
to soon target Mr. Santorum.
But Richard Martinez, general manager of WTVJ-6, an NBC station
in Miami, hasn't run any presidential primary ads yet. The
Miami-Fort Lauderdale market is expensive and heavily Democratic,
which may have prompted GOP candidates to hold off on buying air
But Mr. Martinez expects that to change soon and estimates the
South Florida broadcasters will eventually sell $2 million worth of
primary ads, the same amount as 2008.
GOP candidates are also likely to run their first
Spanish-language ads in this Florida presidential campaign to reach
the state's large Cuban-American population, which trends
Republican in presidential elections. A spokeswoman for Univision,
the largest Spanish-language network in the U.S., said its Miami
station is "in conversations with all the campaigns and PACs and
has received inquiries for proposals as they focus on the Florida