While Iowa voters will be the first to decide on presidential candidates, super PACs and outside spending groups have already spent more money reserving advertising time in the next state on the schedule, New Hampshire. The money flow underscores the growing focus on the Granite State by several Republican candidates who have spent considerably more time in New Hampshire than Iowa, according to an analysis conducted by the Des Moines Register.
Six Republican hopefuls, as well as former candidate South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, have focused their energy on the state in recent weeks, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former New York Gov. George Pataki. And the money has followed from their affiliated committees ahead of the state's Feb. 9 primary.
Super PACs and outside groups associated with those campaigns have spent by a margin of 3.5 to 1 in New Hampshire compared with Iowa. That gives New Hampshire, which is a much more expensive media market, a nearly $10 million lead over Iowa, with $36.4 million in reserved ad time compared with Iowa's $26.6 million in super PAC funding. Of that, $35.3 million has been spent to back Republican candidates.
Super PACs, because of their special status in American political spending, are allowed to raise unlimited amounts of money but must disclose their donor identities.
As the first two states to evaluate candidates, Iowa and New Hampshire play outsized roles in America’s presidential nominating process. While both states are relatively small in terms of population, momentum gained in one or both has proved for politicians hoping to make it to the White House.
Because of their special status, voters in the states are known to be more analytical of the candidates and more expectant that they will make personal overtures to the populations in each state. For candidates like Christie, who has made more intimate town hall events a cornerstone of his presidential campaign, that expectation could pay off. He currently polls in third place in the Granite State, with 11.5 percent of the vote.
Still, there are signs that the conventional wisdom in the states could be upended during this election cycle. Businessman Donald Trump, who is known less for intimate events like town halls and grassroots politicking than for his massive campaign rallies, has been leading in New Hampshire polls for months. He’s also high in Iowa, as well, where he finds himself in second place behind Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, 30.3 percent to 27.5 percent.