Republican-aligned super PACs and other outside conservative groups have spent more than $144 million on general election ads in swing presidential states, a huge outlay of cash that has allowed former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney to not only combat but exceed heavy early ad spending by President Obama.

In this May 8, 2012 file photo, Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks in Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

By contrast, the $20 million that Democratic super PACs have spent on ads so far in the general election accounts for just 19 percent of total ad spending on the Democratic side.

Of the 10 biggest spenders on TV ads among outside groups, eight of them are Republican affiliated. Here’s a chart that details total ad spending in the general election by those groups as well as by Obama and Romney:

But, wait, there’s more.

Republican outside groups have spent seven times as much as their Democratic counterparts on ads so far in the general election. In fact, the two-pronged American Crossroads (a super PAC) and Crossroads GPS (a 501c4) have spent in excess of $94 million on TV ads — approximately five times as much as Democratic super PACs have spent combined. And that $94 million is roughly two and a half times more than Romney himself has spent on ads in the general election to date.

Taken together, the Romney campaign and the panoply of Republican outside groups have spent $179 million on swing state advertising so far in the general election, while Obama and his aligned outside groups have shelled out $128 million.

Analyzing the spending in a handful of swing states further proves just how critical a role Republican outside money has played in keeping Romney in the game against Obama on the airwaves.

In Florida, outside conservative groups have spent $32 million on ads ($23 million of that is from American Crossroads/Crossroads GPS) while Romney has spent just more than $4 million. Obama’s campaign has dumped $20 million on ads in Florida, but Democratic outside groups have spent just $4.6 million. Add it up, and Romney/GOP groups have spent $36 million on ads in the Sunshine State, as compared to $25 million for Obama/Democratic groups.

Ditto Ohio, where Republican groups ($22 million) and Romney ($8.8 million) have combined to outspend Obama ($23.6 million) and Democratic groups ($4.5 million). Or Virginia, where GOP groups ($19.9 million) and Romney ($4.8 million) are outspending Obama ($14 million) and Democratic groups ($3.9 million) by a wide margin.

And then there are the swing(ish) states where Romney hasn’t spent a dime on TV ads, relying solely on GOP super PACs and other outside groups to combat the Obama offensive.

In Pennsylvania, Obama has spent $5 million on ads. While Romney hasn’t run a single ad in the state, GOP outside groups have spent $5 million on ads. (And by the way, this kind of financial matching in the ad wars is not a coincidence.)

In Michigan, neither Obama nor Romney have spent any money on TV ads. But, Republican-aligned groups have dropped upwards of $6 million on commercials in the Wolverine State.

What that raft of numbers make clear is that Republican super PACs and other outside groups have effectively kept Romney afloat as he recovered — financially and otherwise — from a costly Republican primary campaign.

Without the spending by outside Republican groups, Romney would have been swamped on TV in these past few months and we would almost certainly be looking at a very different race 105 days before the Nov. 6 election.

If you need evidence of just how much super PACs have transformed the 2012 election landscape, now you’ve got it.

Poll shows business background a plus for Romney: A new poll shows attacks on Romney’s business background haven’t stopped voters from seeing it as a feather in his cap.

The USA Today/Gallup poll shows 63 percent of people think Romney’s private sector experience means he would make good economic decisions as president, while just 29 percent say it would cause him to make bad ones.

In fairness to Obama’s campaign, it hasn’t exactly been arguing that Romney was a bad businessman, but rather that layoffs, outsourcing and offshore accounts show a lack of character. That’s a little different than saying he would make bad decisions as president.

But the USA Today/Gallup numbers reinforce the fact that the battle over Romney’s business record matters, and it can be a major plus for the GOP nominee if he can beat back the attacks.

Romney says gun laws not the answer in Colorado: Romney weighed in on the tragedy in Colorado on Monday, telling CNBC’s Larry Kudlow that stricter gun laws wouldn’t have prevented the shootings.

“I still believe that the 2nd Amendment is the right course to preserve and defend and don’t believe that new laws are going to make a difference in this type of tragedy,” Romney said.

He added: “There are — were, of course — very stringent laws which existed in Aurora, Colorado. Our challenge is not the laws, our challenge is people who obviously are distracted from reality and do unthinkable, unimaginable, inexplicable things.”


Romney raised $10 million in two days during a California swing.

The cast of HBO’s “The Wire” will help Obama raise money.

Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright said in a 2008 book that Romney thanked her for “keeping my mouth shut” about the 2002 Olympic uniforms being manufactured in Burma.

Olympics uniforms will be made in America — starting in 2014.

Mike Huckabee joins forces with Chick-Fil-A to oppose gay marriage.

Sen. Sherrod Brown’s (D-Ohio) campaign is fundraising off an e-mail from a conservative blogger that asked Brown’s wife — a local journalist — why she is seen in pictures snuggling up to Brown. The blogger didn’t know the two were married.

A new independent poll shows former congressman Jay Inslee (D) overtaking state Attorney General Rob McKenna (R) in the open Washington state governor’s race and leading by 7 percent.

Much-hyped GOP congressional recruit Mia Love’s Utah campaign has undergone plenty of turnover.

In contrast to a GOP-sponsored poll released over the weekend that showed a close race, an automated Democratic poll shows state Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D) leading Long Beach City Councilman Gary DeLong (R) by 11 percent.


Short-timer Ron Paul’s last chance at legalizing pot” — Elizabeth Dwoskin, Bloomberg Businessweek

The Hidden Mitt” — John Heilemann, New York Magazine

Sexual Orientation ‘Nonissue’ on Campaign Trail” — Joshua Miller, Roll Call