I don’t think this is getting enough attention:
Super PACs are dominating the air waves in Iowa in the run up to the state’s caucus, the first time that Republican voters will get to cast their ballot in the 2012 GOP presidential primary. According to numbers tallied by the Des Moines Register, super PACs accounted for approximately 45 percent of all television advertising purchased for the primary. Much of that money is coming from the pro-Mitt Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, in the form of negative ads targeting Newt Gingrich.
Meanwhile, the candidates’ own campaigns are running mostly positive ads:
According to the Post’s handy “Mad Money” campaign ad tracker, the ad war between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich has been a veritable love fest. Every ad run by Gingrich has been positive, and 87 percent of Romney’s ads have been positive.
I don’t know how much Citizens United has helped cause the rise of the SuperPac, but this seems to represent a new direction in politics, and perhaps one that will allow Republican elites to maintain some control of the party. Outsiders with strong grassroots support, like Ron Paul can raise a lot of money from small donors and still get blown away in the money race by big institutional donations to SuperPacs.
This also de-incentives Republican efforts to expand their small donor base in general elections. It will be interesting if, in 5 or 10 years, Democrats dominate the small donor direct-to-campaign (and party committee) game while Republicans rely mostly on big donors. Things are already headed in that direction.