How super PACs are saving Mitt Romney
By Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake,
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.
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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.
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