From NBC's Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Now that Iowa caucuses are finally here, just how much was spent on TV ads in the state? The answer, at least to us, is astounding.
According to various campaign sources, the Democratic and Republican candidates and various interest groups have spent more than $50 million in TV ads here in Iowa this year. That is more than five times the amount from 2004, when a combined $9.1 million was spent in the state.
Obama (more than $9.5 million) has spent the most among all the candidates -- followed by Clinton (more than $7.5 million), Romney ($7 million-plus), Edwards ($4 million), and Huckabee ($1.4 million).
And consider this: The three top-tier Dems have spent a total of $21 million -- or $140 a vote based on 150,000 turnout. Or this: Based on 85,000 Iowa Republicans turning out it, Romney's and Huckabee's combined $8.4 million-plus comes out to about $100 per GOP vote.
And based on a 235,000 turnout for both Democrats and Republicans, the $50 million-plus total spending comes out to more than $210 a vote.
Also, the top campaigns have spent some $2 million to $3 million each on direct mail. That's another $15 million. And the spending doesn't end there. Clinton and Obama have about 200 paid staffers in the state, and Edwards has about 150.