Super PACs are still a bad idea. Corporations should not be able to give unlimited sums to political campaigns. It is bad for our democracy.Bill Burton, co-founder of an Obama-supporting super PAC, Priorities USA. This is a significant question for Democrats: Should progressives who oppose the very existence of super PACs also oppose progressive super PACS? Or is the utilization of super PACS a necessary step to changing the legal framework that makes them possible? Burton seems to believes it’s the second. “Citizens United harms our country, not just the liberal cause,” he says. “I’m proud of the work we did at Priorities in this election, but this system is broken and needs reform.” source (paywall)
I am hoping to work myself out of a job.David Donnelly, co-founder of Friends of Democracy, on the irony of backing a super PAC that aims to abolish super PACs. (via The New York Times)
$125 the price President Obama’s campaign paid for a slot of ad time in Ohio
$900 the price a conservative super PAC paid for the same amount of ad time in the same state source
A rarely-discussed fact about super PACS: Under federal law, they’re charged a substantially higher rate for ad time than candidates’ campaigns. One implication of this is that candidates who are supported primarily by super PACS get a lot less bang for their buck than candidates who pay for ads with their own campaigns. This excellent chart, courtesy of Paul Blumenthal at Huffington Post, says it all:
Keep in mind that Florida is a must-win state for Mitt Romney, yet for all of his supposed financial advantages, he’s buying less ad time there than Obama (h/t Jon Chait).
Obviously, maybe in a roundabout way, foreign money is coming into an American campaign.Sen. John McCain • Criticizing the recent $10 million donation casino magnate Sheldon Adelson made to Mitt Romney’s Super PAC by suggesting that Adelson likely used profits from properties he owns in the Chinese special administrative region of Macau to fund Romney’s campaign. (It’s an issue near and dear to McCain’s heart, as the campaign finance bill that Citizens United largely struck down, McCain-Feingold, bears his name.) The Las Vegas Sands head also played a heavy role in the primaries, heavily funding Newt Gingrich’s electoral efforts. While people from foreign countries cannot fund election efforts, McCain is arguing that efforts like Adelson’s skirt around this, due to the fact that Adelson is the leader of a multinational corporation. Follow McCain’s logic here?
Contrary to what many believe, the central effect of such negative advertising isn’t to move voters from supporting another candidate to backing yours, as Mitt Romney and his allies have discovered during this primary season. The main effect is not even to move undecided voters into your column. No, the real effect of negative advertising is to energize and solidify support among your ideological base while turning everyone else off to the other candidate, the campaign and the entire electoral process. Negative advertising isn’t about changing minds; it’s about altering the composition of the voter pool on Election Day by turning moderate voters into non-voters.The Washington Post’s Stephen Pearlstein • Offering a counterpoint to Ezra Klein’s point from the other night; Pearlstein suggests politicians want people to turn off from the political process, because it helps them stabilize the electoral pool come election time. Which is how we get stuff like Obama eating dog food on an Etch A Sketch with Mitt Romney’s face drawn on it, or something like that.
» But at least Romney has Super PAC backing: While Obama more than doubled Romney’s fundraising total in March — $35 million to $12.6 million — Romney’s stayed competitive with the help of the Super PAC supporting him, Restore Our Future. Other Super PACs are helping too — the Karl Rove-backed American Crossroads, which is expected to ratchet up the Obama attack ads, raised $31.2 million in March — and the RNC’s fundraising is back on track after a fairly rough stretch under Michael Steele. One thing Romney hasn’t done this time around is put his own money into the campaign, like he did in 2008 when he threw $40 million in the pot. Think Mitt can prove formidable despite the cash deficit?
The Super PACs have played a key role, unfortunately, in my view, because most of them are negative ads. They’ve driven up the unfavorables of all of the candidates and made it much more difficult, frankly, to win the election in November.Sen. John McCain • Speaking on the 2012 presidential election, which he called “the nastiest I have ever seen.” Remember, this is coming from the guy who once was falsely accused of birthing a black child out of wedlock. So his standards are pretty high as far as nasty races go. McCain, a longtime advocate of campaign finance reform, went further, calling the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision “the worst decision the United States Supreme Court has made in many years.”
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» Four states getting strongest focus: Ten states are holding primaries and caucuses in a couple of days, but the ones that the GOP candidates are really focused on? Ohio, Georgia, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Much of the advertising seems to be focused on trashing other candidates, with both Mitt-and-Newt-affiliated Super PACs attacking Rick Santorum — who is currently leading in Ohio. In other news, Mitt won a caucus in Washington on Saturday with Ron Paul scoring second place, though the caucus is non-binding.