ABC News’ Michael Falcone and Elizabeth Hartfield report:
Mitt Romney and his allies swamped the competition on the television airwaves in Illinois, and they’re gearing up to do the same in the next state they hope to put in the win column: Wisconsin.
Early polls indicate Wisconsin could be a pick-up opportunity for Rick Santorum, but not if the pro-Romney super PAC has anything to do with it.
Even before the ink was dry on the results of Tuesday night’s Illinois primary, Restore Our Future, had already purchased roughly $1.3 million worth of airtime in the Badger State, which holds its primary on April 3 — the same day as Maryland and the District of Columbia.
According to filings with the Federal Election Commission and data obtained by Republican sources tracking ad buys, the super PAC is pouring money into Wisconsin, concentrating their resources on the Madison and Milwaukee areas with smaller ad buys in La Crosse, Green Bay and Wausau. The group has been on the air in the state since March 15 and has reserved both broadcast and cable time through March 26. That means more buys are likely on the way to fill the remaining week before the primary.
Restore Our Future is also a factor in the TV air wars in Louisiana, which votes on Saturday, spending more than $566,000 there. Ahead of the Maryland primary, the super PAC has reserved more than $456,000 of airtime, mostly in the Baltimore and Washington, DC media markets.
The Romney campaign has yet to purchase any airtime in the next round of states holding primaries. But recall that the Romney campaign and Restore Our Future outspent Santorum and his allies by a factor of 8 to 1 in Illinois and 21 to 1 in the expensive Chicago media market.
It’s déjà vu all over again for the Santorum campaign, which is already getting outspent badly in coming contests. The campaign has chipped in about $54,000 for a modest flight of ads in Wisconsin and another $170,000 in Louisiana, a state that Santorum predicted he would win.
The pro-Santorum super PAC, the Red, White and Blue Fund, is lending a hand in Louisiana with a roughly $375,000 ad buy, but has yet to spend a dime on the airwaves in Wisconsin — a state that looks a lot more competitive.