This animation by NPR does a good job showing where the super PACs and campaigns are funneling their cash to buy up airtime for political ads. Forgot California – in the months leading up to election day, it’s all about the battleground states!
Campaign Finance and Media
A dive into the nitty gritty of super PACs, media wars, and the art of shaping public opinion.
|Individuals and organizations are spending millions in this election to win support for, or to defeat, a variety of propositions on California’s ballot. Anyone who’s watched even a smidgen of TV in the last two months can attest to the inundation of prop commercials out there. Often times, the names, affiliations, and locations of the big funders (who are oftentimes out-of-state groups) are left intentionally vague – organizations like Americans for Responsible Leadership, a conservative Arizona-based group that’s donated $11 million in favor of Prop 32. Such opaqueness makes it nearly impossible, from the ads alone, to decipher a funder’s political affiliation or long-term agenda. So, a little sleuthing can go a long way to find out who’s behind what. Bottom line: you always gotta follow the money! And the Vote’s Edge project at MapLight – a nonpartisan, nonprofit research firm – makes it pretty easy to do just that. Check out their cash flow tracking app.|
The 2012 presidential and congressional elections will cost roughly $5.8 billion, making it the most expensive in U.S. history. That’s according to estimates by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which predicts about a 7 percent increase from 2008′s $5.4 billion price tag. The presidential race, alone, CRP estimates, will cost about $2.5 billion.
$5.8 billion! That’s nearly twice the state of Wyoming’s entire 2012 budget!
The biggest difference in this year’s election is the sharp rise in contributions – and influence – from outside groups, namely Super PACs. Remember that the current races – both presidential and congressional – are the first in which the new, post-Citizens United rules will be in effect. While outside spending groups did exist in previous presidential election cycles, significant legal developments, including the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision – which determined that political spending is a form of protected speech and lifted spending limitations for corporations and unions – have led to a rapid rise in super PACs and other outside spending groups that don’t have to disclose their donors. And that means a deluge of negative campaign ads paid for by organization’s you’ve probably never heard of. Continue reading
There once was a time not so very long ago when people actually functioned without television (gasp). And then, just like that, it arrived … and spread like wildfire.
In 1948 less than one percent of American homes had TVs. By 1954 – a mere six years later - more than half of all American’s had a boob-tube in the house. By 1958, that rate had soared to over 80 percent, and today hovers at about 97 percent.
What better way of explaining Super PACs than through a music video! Might not make the Top 40, but it should. The folks at Explainer Music do it justice.
It’s election season at Dudley High. Students are gearing up to vote for their next student body president.
There are only two candidates, and at the outset, it doesn’t seem like much of a contest. Continue reading
To point out the absurdities of Super PACs, the comedian Stephen Colbert jumped in the fray, and formed his own. Initially called the Citizens for a Better Tomorrow (he’s been switching the name around) it’s kind of a joke but also technically legitimate, with over a million dollars collected in donations already! In promoting it, Colbert emphasizes the very loose rules. Take a look:
In the heat of the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, a conservative political group called Citizens United produced a “documentary” that vilified democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. But when the group tried to run the piece on TV within a month of the primary election, the Federal Election Commission prohibited it from doing so, ruling it a form of corporate “express advocacy” banned by current campaign law on corporate spending. Continue reading
Watch Outside Super PACs Poised to Dominate 2012 Spending on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.
If there’s anything you should remember about U.S. campaign finance law, it’s this:
For almost every set rule, there is most likely a loophole for getting around that rule.
Keeping track of America’s campaign finance laws is really difficult. Why? Continue reading