Republican Super PACs: We Can't Buy The Election Like We Thought We Could
A billionaire-backed stimulus program for states that went Obama in 2008. A private cash infusion to prop up the economy in a race where Obama gets the credit. However you characterize what is going on now in the 2012 election, the societal benefit of the Super PAC spending spree is tremendous, particularly if you happen to live in one of the aforementioned states. From today's Wall Street Journal:
Big outside political groups armed with an unprecedented river of money had appeared poised to be pivotal players in the 2012 elections.
So far, these super PACs are looking less than super.
Freed of any constraints on the size of donations, political action committees have since April poured more than $250 million into the presidential and select congressional races—more than what the two 1996 presidential candidates spent in total on their campaigns, records show.
But signs are few that super PACs have had the major impact that both supporters and critics predicted. The flood of spending doesn't appear to have significantly influenced voter opinion in key states in the presidential contest or in top congressional races.
On the presidential front, conservative outside groups backing Republican candidates say they already have played their most significant role, and that their influence will fade as the candidates themselves present their closing arguments to voters.
"We believe we have kept a number of races competitive and put important issues on the table. But at this stage of the game, we are no longer the market leader," said Steven Law, who directs two of the biggest right-leaning outside groups, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS.
Those two groups, along with Republican allies, including Americans for Prosperity and Restore our Future, have spent nearly $18 million on largely negative TV spots trying to put Pennsylvania and Michigan into play for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. The Romney campaign has spent $1,000 in Pennsylvania and nothing in Michigan.
Let's go to the chart, shall we:
And then there is my home state, North Carolina:
In North Carolina, which the GOP believed it could retake easily after losing to Mr. Obama by a sliver in 2008, conservative super PACs have spent $23 million trying to put the state beyond Mr. Obama's reach. But Mr. Obama lags by less than two percentage points in aggregated polling, within the margin of error. Through the end of August, the Romney campaign and its allies had committed to ads worth a total of nearly $34 million in the state, compared with nearly $23 million by the Obama campaign.
Essentially, anything that Obama does short of losing means that the state economies have received these billionaire bucks for free – at no cost to the American taxpayer and no increase to the national debt. It's also a pretty nice reward to these states for going blue in 2008 and all pretty brilliant of Obama and his people, if you ask me. Now some might argue that it is really the Bush Supreme Court and/or the arrogance of billionaires who deserve the "credit" for this state of affairs. Others may ask, what is the "heartbreaking" part of this story? The Wall Street Journal has the answer to that – the heartbreak of the fat cats, of course:
"If the Republicans don't win the presidency and don't win the Senate, there are going to be a lot of millionaires wondering where all the money went," said Steve Elmendorf, who helped run the 2004 Kerry campaign. "There will be a lot of soul searching and a lot of questioning of the groups who promised to deliver."
1. (of a person) Sad or displeased because someone or something has failed to fulfill one's hopes or expectations.
2. (of Republican hopes and expectations) Soul searching and questioning of groups like American Crossroads who promised to deliver.
* Apologies to Dave Eggers
Update 9/24/2012 1:37 p.m.
The text on North Carolina polling above is already obsolete. A new Civitas poll has come out (replacing the absurd Survey USA/Civitas poll of 9/10 that had 30% of African-Americans voting for Romney) showing Obama up over Romney in North Carolina by 4%. This moves the NC RCP average from -2% Obama to +1% Obama. That makes the new "no toss-up state" tally 347 electoral votes Obama/Biden, 191 electoral votes Romney/Ryan and means that Mitt Romney is now officially behind in ALL of the 2012 swing states.