Where the candidates are placing their bets

Wall Street Journal:

In a topsy-turvy presidential campaign, with hundreds of millions of dollars already raised and a January jam-packed with key events as never before, candidates are challenging some traditional notions about the best path to the White House.

In races past, candidates typically spent most heavily in the early going on the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, then had time to shift resources to larger, later states if the nomination hadn't been sewed up yet.

This campaign season is shaping up differently, especially for Republicans, where two major candidates -- Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson -- are spending their budgets most heavily on Florida. That state's Jan. 29 primary has made it for the first time a potential kingmaker along with Iowa and New Hampshire. Among Republicans, Mitt Romney is also a big spender in Florida.

For Democrats, the growing dominance of Hillary Rodham Clinton, challenged by a struggling but well-financed Barack Obama, has led unprecedented millions to be poured into Iowa -- twice as much as into New Hampshire. Iowa's Jan. 3 caucus has taken on greater importance for Democrats than four or eight years ago because it is the single best chance for Mr. Obama and John Edwards to stop Mrs. Clinton. (Please see related article on page A4.) None of the Democratic candidates are active in Florida because the national party, angry at the state for moving its vote so early, has forbidden campaigning there.

The shape of the campaign emerges from a Wall Street Journal analysis of campaign spending reports released earlier this month. The Journal estimated spending in each state choosing a candidate in January by analyzing campaign filings and gathering data on television-advertising spending and staffing.

"The Democrats are being very much condensed and focused on Iowa, whereas Republicans are pursuing a less conventional strategy," says Evan Tracey, an analyst with TNS Media Intelligence/CMAG, a political media research firm. "Campaigns are having to make some tough choices as far as the states where they put their money."


The Journal has put together a Who's Spending Where chart that gives each candidates priorities. While the Republicans are obviously giving Florida much more attention, the reduced delegates will make the prize more symbolic than substantive, as will many of the other earlier primaries. It will also make the stakes possibly higher in some of the "later" big states like Texas and California where all their delegates will be able to vote at the convention. The smart candidates need to save some money for those states.


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