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Political ‘Super PACs’ have not delivered expected effect

September 25, 2012

Many people expected “super PACs” — those big political-action committees now freed from limits on donations and awash with unprecedented seas of money — to be pivotal players in the 2012 elections. But as The Wall Street Journal reports, super PACs have not had the major impact on voter opinion that supporters and critics had predicted for the presidential contest or for the top congressional races.

“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,” says Steven Law, who directs two of the largest right-leaning outside groups, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS.

These and other Republican allies have spent nearly $18 million on negative TV spots aimed at putting Pennsylvania and Michigan into play for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. But President Barack Obama continues to lead Pennsylvania by nearly 10 percentage points and Michigan by eight, the Journal reported. Obama has relied on his own campaign coffers with limited help from outside groups.

The wide range of messages from the PACs likely confused voters. Viewers may be skeptical of ads backed by obscure groups, and are watching snippets of programs online or fast-forwarding past commercials on recorded shows, further diminishing the impact of the ads.

As Steve Elmendorf — who helped run John Kerry’s campaign in 2004 — says, “If the Republicans don’t win the presidency and… the Senate, there are going to be a lot of millionaires wondering where all the money went.” — Greg Beaubien


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