The conventional wisdom holds that if Mitt Romney can defeat Rick Santorum in the Pennsylvania popular vote, he’ll have sewn up the nomination. He isn’t leaving anything to chance. His campaign has reserved $2.9 million in television airtime between Monday and primary day.
Update: Salena Zito of the Tribune Review reports that the buy will total $2.9 million. The original figure reported by PoliticsPA was $1.8 million.
According to a GOP media buying source, the ads break down as follows. All of these figures pertain to broadcast over the next two weeks; it is yet to be seen whether his campaign will also go on cable.
Erie: 5,966 gross ratings points
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre: 4,837 gross ratings points
Johnstown: 4,800 gross ratings points
Philadelphia: 3,200 gross ratings points
Harrisburg/Lancaster/Lebanon/York: 2,600 gross ratings points
“They’re going for the throat. This is a coup de grâce,” said the source.
Romney is apparently ceding Santorum’s home turf in southwestern PA; he isn’t set to put a dime on TV in the Pittsburgh market this week. The ad buys were placed Friday.
The pro-Romney Super PAC Restore Our Future is set to place $104,000 on Fox News (cable) statewide.
Chris Nicholas is a GOP campaign veteran who has bought statewide TV time in multiple states over the past decade, including Pennsylvania. He said the buy is enormous.
“This is an incredible amount of points in two weeks,” he said. “I’ve never bought more than 1,500 a week.”
Industry shorthand suggests that for every 100 GRP, the average viewer sees an ad once. That means the average Erie resident will see a Romney ad 59 times in the next two weeks.
Nicholas noted that other candidates could get squeezed out, particularly in the Scranton area.
For them, each point will increase in price about 10 to 15 percent in markets where Romney is buying.