In the most recent National Journal magazine, I've got a look at how South Carolina's history of nasty political warfare and massive Super PAC spending is combining for a particularly venomous campaign:
The super PACs supporting the six remaining GOP candidates have already spent almost $6 million in television advertising there, according to a review by an ad buyer obtained by National Journal. By contrast, super PACs spent $5 million in Iowa and just $2 million in New Hampshire (the Our Destiny PAC supporting Jon Huntsman was the only one to buy in the Granite State), underscoring the do-or-die nature of South Carolina for the not-Romney crowd. The candidates themselves have spent only about $2.7 million on television because the PACs have done so much of the heavy lifting. Their blitz buys a ton of ads in a state where it generally costs less than $300,000 to nearly saturate the airwaves for a week. ...Winning the Future, the pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC, has vowed to spend $3.4 million on ads attacking Romney. The group has produced a short feature portraying the former venture capitalist as a greedy corporate raider and was inquiring with TV sales offices earlier this week about buying 30-minute blocks of airtime to broadcast it, according to a top strategist from a rival camp. "Just to make that relative, that's probably what [Gov. Nikki] Haley and I spent total, combined, in the general election for governor," a state Sen. Vincent Sheheen said of Winning Our Future's advertising budget. The Democrat, who narrowly lost to Haley in 2010, estimated that the two together didn't spend more than $3 million on television ads.So far on South Carolina TV, Restore Our Future PAC has spent almost $2.1 million for Romney. Make Us Great Again, the PAC pushing Rick Perry, bought almost $1.7 million in advertising. Winning Our Future plunked down about $1.5 million for Gingrich. The Santa Rita PAC has spent about $326,000 in support of Paul. The Red, White, and Blue Fund behind Rick Santorum spent about $175,000. And the PAC backing Huntsman, Our Destiny, has spent about $50,000.Neither Haley nor Sheheen had the cash to advertise in the state's border areas--the media markets of Augusta, Ga., Savannah, Ga., and Charlotte, N.C., are more expensive and, therefore, harder to reach--but super PACs supporting Romney, Gingrich, and Paul have bought airtime in all of them. Overall, outside groups have spent about five times more on ads so far in this election cycle than at this point four years ago, according to one media analyst who asked to speak on background.