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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

A TALE OF TWO SUPER PACS

The following article is cross-posted from The American Prospect:
Today featured contradicting reports on the presidential election’s fundraising front. In The New York Times Magazine, Robert Draper describes the long, hard slog of pro-Obama Priorities USA, the self-acknowledged underdog of super PACs that is bound to be beaten by American Crossroads–the super PAC Hulk masterminded by Karl Rove. Because of the well-known troubles of Priorities USA, it was surprising to see the National Review report on Obama’s super PAC advantage, citing FEC reports that showed that anti-Romney spending far outweighs anti-Obama spending.
Just a little oversight in this analysis, though. The biggest conservative spenders in 2012 aren’t likely going to be super PACs. The real scary fundraisers are the 501(c)4 nonprofits, which don’t face the same disclosure requirements as their more overtly political super PAC brethren. As TPM’s Brian Beutler points out, American Crossroads’s nonprofit sibling, Crossroads GPS, dropped $24 million on one ad buy in May.
If we take another step back, the Republicans’ advantage in political spending grows even starker. National Review only covered outside spending on the presidential campaign–not on state and local races. But congressional and state races are where conservative outside groups truly have liberal groups beat. The top Republican-leaning outside groups plan to spend $1 billion in 2012, and the bulk of that money is going to go toward winning Congress–not the White House. Labor unions, on the other hand, are expected to spend between $200 to $400 million on Democratic campaigns. Priorities USA only plans to spend $100 million by November, and they are by far the biggest Democratic-leaning outside group. As much as Draper paints Priorities as an underdog, the other more localized Democratic-leaning outside groups are miles behind the rest of the pacs, and that’s where the Republicans’ true advantage lies.

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