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Ad spending tops $800 million; on pace to reach or come close to $1 billion

Ad spending in the presidential campaign has now topped $800 million and is on pace to reach or come close to $1 billion, according to an NBC analysis of data provided by ad-buying firm SMG Delta.

Jim Young / Reuters

President Barack Obama looks over at Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney during the second presidential campaign debate on Oct. 16 in Hempstead, N.Y.

So far, $807 million has been spent on political ads for radio and television -- local and national, cable and broadcast.

The Obama campaign is one ad buy away from reaching $300 million by itself. But with outside money factored in, "Team Romney" (the campaign plus outside groups supporting him or attacking the president) is outspending "Team Obama" $455 million to $352 million.

The Romney campaign, which has come on since Labor Day, is now the second-biggest spender at $164 million. 

Time Magazine's Nancy Gibbs, Bob Herbert, the distinguished fellow at Demos, and Politico's Maggie Haberman join Chuck Todd to talk about the path to 270 and the town hall debate.

Following the Romney campaign are the combined Karl-Rove backed Crossroads groups -- American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS. Combined, the two groups have spent $124 million ($65 million for American Crossroads, $59 million for GPS). 

GPS's spending has dropped off in the past couple of months, ceding the presidential ground to American Crossroads, which announced an $11 million ad buy just this week.

Other big spenders: Restore Our Future (pro-Romney) $69 million, Priorities USA (pro-Obama) $48 million, Americans for Prosperity (pro-Romney) $46 million, the Republican National Committee (pro-Romney) $24 million, and late-comer Americans for Job Security (pro-Romney) $9 million.

The states seeing the biggest spending are the usual suspects: Florida, Ohio, and Virginia, where more than half of all the money's been spent -- $452 million.

In the last three weeks, Ohio is gaining on Florida for the top spot. Florida still leads at $166 million, followed by Ohio $160 million, and Virginia $126 million.

Also rising fast -- Colorado, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

Colorado has now passed North Carolina for the No. 4 spot at $72 million spent. 

North Carolina, which saw a lot of spending early in the campaign, has seen a reduction of the pace of ads since Labor Day. It now sits fifth at $69 million total.

Iowa is next at $62 million, followed by Nevada $49 million, New Hampshire $34 million, and Wisconsin $32 million.

What's fascinating about Wisconsin is it was barely a blip on the ad-spending radar before the pick of Paul Ryan to be Romney's vice president.

Markets like Green Bay and Madison are now routinely in the top 10 hottest markets by number of ads being run. In fact, this week they clock in at Nos. 1 and No. 5 on that list.

Top Markets:
1. Green Bay
2. Denver
3. Cincinnati
4. Columbus
5. Madison
6. Toledo
7. Cleveland
8. Orlando-Daytona Beach
9. Las Vegas
10. Reno

Despite polling showing the race closing in Pennsylvania and Romney's birth state of Michigan, little to no money is being spent in either state. Neither the Romney nor Obama campaigns, in fact, have spent ANY money at all on ads in Michigan. The Obama campaign spent about $5 million early on in Pennsylvania.

And of the 17 "swing markets," ones won by both Obama and George W. Bush, the only two that have seen little action are Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo and Lansing, both in Michigan.