“Outside groups have to view themselves in a supportive and amplifying role, not as some rogue enterprise trying to score their own points,” said Steven J. Law, president of Crossroads GPS and its sister super PAC, American Crossroads. “In the past, groups would go off on their own and come up with what they thought was a great idea. And they could potentially do significant harm.”
He added that the groups are careful now to keep one another in the loop. “There’s a great deal of sharing,” he said.
And as long as they do not coordinate with Mr. Romney’s strategists, everything is perfectly legal. Though campaigns and outside groups are prohibited from collaborating, they are free to amplify and emulate each other.
“All of us have come to our own conclusions, but we have all come to the same conclusion,” said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy group financed in part by Charles and David Koch. “To defeat the president, the public needs to understand the utter failures of his economic policies.”
A change in pitch in the message that Americans for Prosperity was using is just one example of the way independent political groups have gotten on the same page. The group started out by focusing on the Solyndra scandal, attacking the president as a corrupt figure who granted his cronies lucrative government contracts.
But their latest television campaign — featuring real voters describing how they feel let down by the president and will not support him again — borrows a page from the American Crossroads playbook, which found that more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger critiques of Mr. Obama worked better with swing voters than ads with a hard edge.
“The tone is crucial,” Mr. Phillips said. “Our ads don’t call anyone names. They’re very measured.”