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Romney Outspends Obama in Key States as TV Political Ad Buys Up 68%

SNL Kagan says ad buys to increase to $2.6B, up from $1.6B in 2008

Mitt Romney and President Obama are helping at least one sector of the economy in a big way.

Spending on politcal ads is expected to increase to $2.6 billion this year, up 68 percent from four years ago, as Mitt Romney's campaign outspends President Obama's in key states, according to a new report from the financial research firm SNL Kagan. The total includes state and local races.

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The most spending, not surprisingly, has been in the crucial swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, where Romney has outspent Obama in both TV and radio ad spending. Romney's campaign has already spent more than half a billion dollars with local broadcasters, SNL Kagan reported.

The biggest beneficiary is Gray Television, Inc., which is projected to rake in $90.5 million in ad spending — an 86.7 percent increase over 2008. It owns and operates 40 channels in 30 markets, including stations in the swing states Wisconson and Virginia. Its West Virginia stations also air across the state line in Ohio.

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Story continues after chart from SNL Kagan:

Gannett Co. is projected to score $84.5 million, down 10.1 percent from 2008. The company is one of only two in the top 10 ad buy recipients expected to take in less. Gannett has has 23 TV stations reaching 18.2 percent of the U.S. population, including three in Florida and one in Ohio.

E.W. Scripps Co. is expected to receive $79.5 million, up 93.8 percent from 2008. That is the second-largest percentage increase projected for any of the top 10 ad buy recipients. Only Journal Communications, Inc. is expected to increase more, by climbing 152 percent to $32 million in ad buys.

Scripps owns 17 stations, including two each in  Ohio and Florida. Journal Communications owns 14, including three in Wisconsin and one in Florida.

SNL Kagan estimated that 80 percent of political revenues have poured in during the second half of each of the last three election years, with roughly 60 percent coming in during October and November. If that trend continues this year, the top 10 recipients of political ad spending would score $625.3 million, a 41.9 percent increase since 2008.