Newspaper article MinnPost.com

Super PAC Spending Weakens the Entire GOP Presidential Field

Newspaper article MinnPost.com

Super PAC Spending Weakens the Entire GOP Presidential Field

Article excerpt

Big business cheered the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that opened the legal door to wealthy businessmen bankrolling super PACs in the 2012 presidential election.

But the massive flow of cash into the Super PACs has financed a barrage of negative ads that has bloodied Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney and driven up the negatives on the entire GOP field.

A Wall Street Journal analysis published Wednesday showed that the outside political action committees spent three times more than the candidates' campaigns in the two weeks before Super Tuesday.

The Super PACs have created such a distortion of the political marketplace that a candidate doesn't have to drop out of the presidential race even if he isn't attracting much voter support.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who only mustered a win in his home state of Georgia on Tuesday, is pressing on with his campaign. Gingrich can ignore the will of the voters as long as his Super PAC has enough money to pay for his TV advertising.

While Gingrich legally can't coordinate with the pro-Gingrich Super PAC, it was businessman Sheldon Adelson's $11 million donation that helped catapult Gingrich to a win in South Carolina in January.

Yet this largesse in advertising, financed by the Super PACs, has severely weakened the Republican field.

New polling

On Feb. 23, Gallup released a poll showing that Democratic President Obama had a favorable rating of 50 percent among Americans surveyed.

In comparison, the GOP presidential candidates had the following favorable ratings: Romney, 39 percent; Ron Paul, 39 percent; Rick Santorum, 38 percent; and Gingrich, 26 percent.

Gallup also did polling in mid- to late February in presidential years, which showed Republican candidates fared much better at this stage of the contests. In February 2008, John McCain had a favorable rating of 56 percent among American voters. George W. Bush was at a 58 percent favorable rating in 2000, while Bob Dole was at 49 percent in 1996.

Two years ago, the Supreme Court decided 5-4 in a high profile case that the federal government shouldn't be regulating political spending by corporations because the justices viewed it as akin to free speech. …

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