Political Ads See a Slight Boost in Iowa

But spending trails where it was before 2007 straw poll

Republicans are apparently taking all of this debt talk to heart. With the political season underway and the Iowa straw poll slated for Saturday, the GOP has turned into one frugal lot.

Certainly the big four network affiliates in Des Moines have seen an influx of spending from three of the nine GOP candidates competing in the straw poll: former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Rep. Michele Bachman, Minn. and Rep. Ron Paul, Tex.

"It has accelerated in the last couple of weeks," said Paul Fredericksen, president and general manager of KCCI, Hearst Television's CBS affiliate in Des Moines.

"We had anticipated there would be more, but that has not happened," he added.

 Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000149 EndHTML:0000000546 StartFragment:0000000199 EndFragment:0000000512 StartSelection:0000000199 EndSelection:0000000512 About $600,000 has been spent on political advertising in the state through Aug. 7, estimated Jack Poor, vp of strategic planning for the TVB. The total includes candidate money and PAC and issue spending.

Pawlenty and Paul began spending in earnest last month. Between July 1 and 24, Pawlenty led the field, placing 378 ads, according to Nielsen. Ron Paul ran 88. Bachman ran no ads during the period, but according to stations, she and Pawlenty are the most active in the days leading up to Saturday's straw poll—they're also the two with perhaps the most at stake in Iowa.

There has been some additional limited PAC spending from Crossroads GPS and Citizens United. (And not to be outdone, comedian Stephen Colbert's Super Pac, Americans for a Better Tomorrow Tomorrow, began airing its first ad yesterday, satirically throwing support behind Rick Parry with an "a.")

Despite this recent flurry of spending, there's still only been half as much activity as in 2007, when both parties were actively spending, according to Dale Woods, president and general manager of WHO-TV, LocalTV's NBC affiliate.

Though TV typically gets the lion's share of political dollars, the candidates are also spending on radio, particularly with WHO-AM, the big blowtorch radio station owned by Clear Channel. Paul's Revolution PAC and Citizens United for Bachmann have also taken out some billboards.

So far, online ads are practically nonexistent with the exception of Ron Paul, who took out a banner ad on the politics section of the Des Moines Register. "Web advertising will be there later," said Woods. "It's early."