Obama’s Super-PAC Advantage
So far, Obama’s super PAC is outspending all super-PAC efforts opposing him combined.

President Obama speaks at a fundraiser in New York City, June 4, 2012.


Jim Geraghty

Indeed, almost every major liberal group has spent funds on ads or other efforts attacking Romney. The following totals are just what these groups have spent in efforts to “oppose Romney”:

  • The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees: $2.5 million.
  • The Planned Parenthood Action Fund: $1.6 million.
  • The Service Employees International Union Committee on Political Education: $872,342.03.
  • The League of Conservation Voters Victory Fund: $544,561.23.
  • Political Action: $223,636.45.
  • The International Association of Fire Fighters’ FIREPAC (Fire Fighters Interested in Registration and Education PAC): $96,498.12.
  • NARAL Pro-Choice America: $87,500.88.
  • Comedian Stephen Colbert’s Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow: $75,594.40.
  • Democratic Governors Association’s DGA Action: $45,892.90.
  • Florida Watch Action, Inc.: $27.165.36. 
  • Human Rights Campaign: $25,895.56.

Conservative groups have also been active, but less frequently at the presidential level: 

  • The Club for Growth spent $244,000, mostly in Indiana’s GOP Senate primary contest between Richard Lugar and Richard Mourdock; the Club for Growth Action Fund spent $6 million and the Club for Growth PAC spent $401,551.49 in a variety of House and Senate races.
  • The Ron Paul–backing Endorse Liberty, Inc., spent $7.5 million on ads supporting its preferred candidate.
  • FreedomWorks for America spent $2.6 million in congressional races.
  • The National Rifle Association of America Political Victory Fund has spent $673,335.80; of that total, $169,158.16 was spent in opposition to Lugar and $346,782.61 in support of Mourdock. The NRA Victory Fund has spent $51,539.27 in opposition to President Obama so far.
  • The National Right to Life Political Action Committee has spent $32,630.50 so far, supporting GOP House candidates Jane Corwin in New York and Mark Amodei in Nevada, and the National Right to Life Victory Fund has spent $119,952.01, entirely in efforts opposing Obama. 
  • The Senate Conservatives Fund has spent $3.1 million, all on Senate races. 
  • In mid-May, the Texas Conservatives Fund spent $1 million in opposition to Senate candidate Ted Cruz in the Republican primary, and the Club for Growth Action Fund spent $844,987.50 in opposition to Cruz’s principal rival, David Dewhurst. 

Despite the liberal narrative of a deluge of outside cash from super PACs, the outside spending for all races, including Senate, House, and gubernatorial races, is roughly parallel to that of the major presidential campaigns. As of July 3, all independent groups and super PACs combined had spent $206.7 million, according to FEC records. Through May 31, the Romney campaign had spent $105.2 million, and the Obama campaign had spent $148.7 million.

By the way, it is worth noting that data filed with the FEC can contain errors. According to one record, a super PAC aligned with the Democratic Governors Association, DGA Action, spent $172.63 on January 17 on online advertising in “support” of Romney, and Colbert’s PAC spent $326.25 on “ad production costs” in support of Romney. DGA Action is also listed as spending $416.96 in opposition to “MITT ROMNE [sic].”

Of course, it’s possible that the super PACs opposing Obama will indeed, by the time November 6 rolls around, have spent the gargantuan sums that Obama and Axelrod talk about; groups on the right may be holding their resources in reserve for the final months of the campaign. But it is perhaps not that surprising to find that the media’s preferred narrative of an incumbent president whose principal obstacle to reelection is his opponents’ money does not match the figures for actual amounts spent so far. As many have noted, the media’s traditional lament about “too much money in politics” was strangely quiet during Obama’s record fundraising in 2008; it is easier to quote Axelrod than to examine public records and compile spreadsheets.

— Jim Geraghty writes the Campaign Spot on NRO.


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