Romney is top TV spender in Michigan GOP presidential primary

LANSING -- Former Massachusetts Governor Willard “Mitt” Romney was the leading spender in Michigan’s 2008 Republican presidential primary television ad wars. Romney spent over $2 million, nearly three-times as much as Arizona Senator John McCain, and more than four-times as much as former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network. (MCFN) collected the data from the public files of the state’s broadcasters and cable systems from January 10-14. All figures are gross sales.

Totals for the candidates for all Michigan markets were: Romney: $2,116,281; McCain: $766,804; Huckabee: $498,171. Romney maintained his edge in all markets except Lansing, where McCain doubled his spending and Huckabee nearly equaled it.

The candidates took markedly different approaches to the use of cable. Romney bought no cable time. Huckabee used almost one-third of his TV ad dollars for cable. McCain spent just two percent of his TV budget on cable.

Romney’s TV blitz ran for more than a month, beginning on December 12th. McCain’s ads began in out-state markets on January 4th and in Detroit on January 7th. Huckabee’s ads began statewide on January 9th.

The anti-tax Club for Growth ran an anti-Huckabee campaign the last week before Election Day that cost $186,040. A committee called Citizens for Small Government bought $2,000 worth of cable in the Kalamazoo market to support Texas Representative Ron Paul.

Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich was the only Democrat to buy television in Michigan. He spent about $10,000 for last minute ads in the Detroit market.

Statistically, 95 percent of electoral winners in Michigan have greater financial support than their opponents. However, MCFN executive director Rich Robinson noted that the GOP presidential primary contests haven’t followed that pattern, so far. “The numerous debates and the intensity of news coverage have allowed the candidates to reach voters, even if their financial resources are very limited. You couldn’t have predicted a winner in Iowa or New Hampshire based on spending, and I wouldn’t necessarily bet on it here, either.”

Market by market totals:


Romney: $1,100,215

McCain: $358,074

Huckabee: $271,085

Grand Rapids / Kalamazoo

Romney: $488,590

McCain: $157,175

Huckabee: $87,680


Romney: $48,380

McCain: $113,885

Huckabee: $45,905

Flint / Tri-Cities

Romney: $220,385

McCain: $49,630

Huckabee: $45,230

Traverse City / Alpena

Romney: $192,012

McCain: $65,146

Huckabee: $33,700


Romney: $66,699

McCain: $22,894

Huckabee: $14,571

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Press Release 2008 News