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Romney Leads in Campaign Spending

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has the early lead – in campaign advertising. The former governor of Massachusetts has placed more local television ads this year than all other candidates combined, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Romney, the co-founder of private equity investment firm Bain Capital, has shelled out for 4,549 spots, the overwhelming majority of them on local TV in the early primary states of Iowa (2,036) and New Hampshire (788).

Romney is followed by Democrats Bill Richardson (2,232) and Chris Dodd (1.664). John Edwards was a distant fourth with only 68 spots, 45 in Iowa and 23 in Washington, D.C.

The data was collected through June 10, 2007.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have yet to flood local TV markets with campaign ads, but the Democratic front-runners are generating more online "buzz" than their Republican opponents. According to Nielsen, Democrats lead Republicans in online mentions and discussions by nearly 2 to 1 with Obama at the pinnacle of the Nielsen’s "buzz" metric followed by Clinton. John McCain is the Republican with the most buzz. McCain also leads overall paid Internet advertising followed by Romney and Clinton, respectively.

The early ad spending is not unprecedented. George W. Bush began running campaign ads more than two years ahead of the 2000 election. But earlier primaries in many states is affecting the upfront landscape, most notably cable news networks, since buyers don’t want to get caught in what is likely to be an expensive scatter market during a hotly contested election year.

The market could be even tighter than previously anticipated in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision last week to essentially gut the McCain-Feingold Act and allow "issue" advertising from corporations and unions to run up until Election Day.