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Monday, April 30, 2012

Where to Give?

At The Wall Street Journal, Rachel Louise Ensign offers advice for people who want to give political money:
You should also be aware that some of these organizations now operate in tandem with super PACs. One of the most powerful conservative pairings of this kind is American Crossroads, a super PAC, and Crossroads GPS, a 501(c)4. The difference between the two: "On the policy side, Crossroads GPS, we are working to stop President Obama's agenda. On the political side, American Crossroads, we're looking to replace him as president," says Nate Hodson, a spokesman for both organizations.

One appeal of 501(c) groups is the promise of donor anonymity. If you give more than $200 through the traditional system or to a super PAC, your name, address and size of donation will be disclosed by the Federal Election Commission and published online. With these politically active 501(c) organizations, that's not the case.

"It's something that's worth a moment's thought," says Mr. Samples of the Cato Institute. "A Google search will frequently turn up these things."

But a word of caution: The promised anonymity may not be guaranteed. A U.S. district-court judge ruled last month that the FEC went beyond its authority when it allowed nonprofits to keep secret the identities of donors who financed certain election ads. This sets the stage for a battle over donor anonymity, says Mr. Mann of the Brookings Institution.

Meanwhile, the Internal Revenue Service—which is responsible for granting 501(c)4 status to organizations—recently asked for extensive details from certain conservative groups applying for that status, including the names of donors.

That suggests some groups may fail to pass muster, leaving their donors' names open to public scrutiny. So donors who expect anonymity should at least be sure that an organization has secured the necessary status before making a contribution


Bloomberg reports:

That’s the title of the Obama campaign’s seven-minute video released today — though the video starts by looking backward, at the economic crisis President Obama inherited when he took office in January 2009.

The narrative strings together video and audio clips about the recession and jobs claims connected to Obama’s policies — a stimulus plan that saved up to 4.2 million jobs, a U.S. automaker rescue that saved 1.1 million jobs. “Like America, he dug deep,” a narrator says at one point. The campaign said in a release that the video will serve as “an important grassroots organizing tool” through the general election and be played live at opening campaign rallies on May 5 in Ohio and Virginia.

Maybe it will work in 2012, but in 2010, a similar rhetorical approach fared poorly.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bin Laden Politics

A new Obama campaign video plays up the killing of bin Laden and questions whether Romney would have done it:

Politico reports:
The White House is finally offering some comment on its decision to open the situation room to Brian Williams and the NBC News cameras for next Wednesday's interview about Osama bin Laden, which NBC is calling a "first for network television."
"The piece is in large part pegged off of that iconic situation room photo," National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor explained via email.
"A year later there's still enormous interest in the events of that day and the operation to kill UBL," he added. "This is another window into that remarkable day."
Vietor added that the White House held a video tour of the facility on its blog, and that the Bush Administration gave reporters a tour of the situation room in 2006.
AP reports:
The strategy underscores the fact that the Obama who ordered the raid as commander in chief is now seeking a second term as president. The risk is the political blowback that can come if he is seen as crossing a line into politicizing national security.
"Sad," said a Romney spokeswoman. "Shameless," said 2008 Obama election foe John McCain.
Biden even combined the killing of the al-Qaida leader and Obama's support for a failing auto industry into what he called a re-election bumper sticker message.
"It's pretty simple: Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive," the vice president said in a speech on Thursday.
Obama's campaign followed that Friday with a new web video questioning whether Romney would have taken the same path Obama did. If features a quote from a 2007 Romney interview in which he said it was not worth "moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person."
That prompted Obama's 2008 opponent, Arizona's McCain, to issue a scathing statement in which he accused Obama of playing politics with the bin Laden killing and "diminishing the memory of September 11th."
"This is the same president who said, after bin Laden was dead, that we shouldn't `spike the ball' after the touchdown," he said. "And now Barack Obama is not only trying to score political points by invoking Osama bin Laden, he is doing a shameless end-zone dance to help himself get re-elected."

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Shocker: The Donald Doesn't Like Mockery of Celebrity

A previous post featured the American Crossroads "Celebrity" ad.  Justin Sink reports at The Hill that Donald Trump is displeased:
Donald Trump on Friday slammed a new commercial from American Crossroads, saying the ad's suggestion that President Obama was the "biggest celebrity in the world" would actually help the president. 
“I thought it was one of the worst commercials, in terms of what they were trying to do, that I’ve ever seen,” Trump told MSNBC. “They are making Obama look great. They are making him look like that’s the man we want to be president. I looked at that clip very closely, and actually, I couldn’t believe it.”
Earlier in the morning, advertising executive Donny Deutsch told the "Morning Joe" panel that the ad turned Obama's celebrity against him effectively. But Trump vehemently disagreed, and called in to rebut that sentiment.
“I heard him talking favorably about the ad that was put out essentially by the Republicans, and I thought it was a terrible ad. It made Obama bigger than life. It made him to be the super-celebrity, which I don’t happen to think he is,” Trump said.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Problems for Obama

MSNBC reports on a potential problem for Obama:
The U.S. economy grew at a slower pace in the first quarter of 2012, increasing concerns about the health of the recovery. The blow was softened by a rise in consumer spending, however.
The Commerce Department, in its initial reading of how the economy fared as the new year began, reported Friday that gross domestic product expanded at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the first three months of the year. That's down from a 3.0 percent rate in the fourth quarter and below economists' expectations of a 2.5 percent pace.
A surge in consumer spending took some of the sting from the report. Growth was still stronger than analysts' predictions early in the quarter for an expansion below 1.5 percent.
In another area as well, the gap between expectation and reality will hurt.  Every administration endures its share of snafus, gaffes, missteps, and scandals of various sizes. But Obama's supporters portrayed his administration as uniquely clean and competent.  The inevitable has arrived, as Peggy Noonan writes:
There is a growing air of incompetence around Mr. Obama's White House. It was seen again this week in Supreme Court arguments over the administration's challenge to Arizona's attempted crackdown on illegal immigration. As Greg Stohr of Bloomberg News wrote, the court seemed to be disagreeing with the administration's understanding of federal power: "Solicitor General Donald Verrilli . . . met resistance across ideological lines. . . . Even Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court's only Hispanic and an Obama appointee, told Verrilli his argument is 'not selling very well.' " This follows last month's embarrassing showing over the constitutionality of parts of ObamaCare.

All of this looks so bush league, so scattered. Add it to the General Services Administration, to Solyndra, to the other scandals, and you get a growing sense that no one's in charge, that the administration is paying attention to politics but not day-to-day governance. The two most public cabinet members are Eric Holder at Justice and Janet Napolitano at Homeland Security. He is overseeing the administration's Supreme Court cases. She is in charge of being unmoved by the daily stories of Transportation Security Administration incompetence and even cruelty at our airports. Those incidents and stories continue, but if you go to the Homeland Security website, there is no mention of them. It's as if they don't even exist.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Celebrity Redux

"Never go after someone's strength; go after what he thinks is his strength, but what is, in reality, a weakness." -- Karl Rove, Courage and Consequence, p. 78.

Alicia Cohn writes at The Hill:
A new ad released Thursday by the conservative super-PAC American Crossroads seeks to use President Obama's "cool" status against him, appealing to the youth vote by asking how America's "biggest celebrity" has helped them find jobs
The ad evokes an anti-Obama ad released by the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that hit Obama, then the Democratic nominee, for being "the biggest celebrity in the world" but not ready for leadership. It was one of the most memorable campaign ads in the election cycle.
Four years ago, America elected the biggest celebrity in the world and America got one cool president," the text of the ad begins. The ad features clips of Obama dancing on the Ellen DeGeneres show, "slow-jamming" the news on Jimmy Fallon's late-night show, singing at a fundraiser and drinking beer.
The text continues: "After four years of a celebrity president, is your life any better?" 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Crossroads GPS on Offense in MO, MT, NV, CD and VA

A release from Crossroads GPS:
Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (Crossroads GPS) today announced the launch of a new round of TV spots focused on jobs, reckless Senate spending, Obamacare, and tax increases in five key states.
The issue ads will start Wednesday on broadcast and cable networks in Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Virginia in a buy totaling $1.2 million.
Missouri and McCaskill:

 Montana and Tester:


 Nevada and Berkley:


 North Dakota and Heitkamp:


 Virginia and Kaine:


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Vice Presidential Effect

At The New York Times, Nate Silver finds that the net benefit of a vice presidential nominee has been paltry. On average since 1920, the vp candidate has added only about two percentage points for the ticket in his or her home state.

There is (arguably) a small mistake in Silver's calculation, though it doesn't really affect his conclusion.  He lists Jack Kemp, the 1996 Republican vice presidential nominee, as coming from New York.  But at the time of the election, Kemp lived in Maryland.

Kemp had represented a western New York district in the House (contrary to myth, it did not include the city of Buffalo).  Much closer to Cleveland than to New York City, the district was isolated from the the state's population centers. And Kemp was a Los Angeles native with only a tenuous relationship to New York.  His 1986 opponent slammed him as a Californian who lived in Maryland and did not occupy his nominal district home.  A Washington Post reporter followed up with Kemp:

What about his New York residence?
"Hamburg," Kemp said.
Where in Hamburg?
"South Lake Street," he said.
Where on South Lake?
"You mean what number?" he asked incredulously. "You want to know the number?"
There was a pause. Kemp dug into his trouser pocket for his wallet and extracted his New York state driver's license. He glanced quickly at the fine print. "45," he said, dropping the license on the tablecloth. "45 South Lake."
There was little chance that home links would sway votes to the Dole-Kemp ticket in either New York or Maryland.  Similarly, it is no wonder that tickets including William Miller (R 1964) and Geraldine Ferraro (D 1984) lost New York.  As House members, they had represented only a tiny fraction of state voters.  People in New York City had no more in common with a guy from Niagara County than Upstaters did with a woman from Queens.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Scenes from the Air War

Ricky Gill is challenging California incumbent Democrat Jerry McNerney:

At The Washington Post, Aaron Blake writes:
The ad war in the Montana governor’s race is officially on, with a group affiliated with the Democratic Governors Association going up with an ad responding to Republican attacks.

A state GOP ad earlier this week, partially funded by the Republican Governors Association, hit state Attorney General and presumptive Democratic nominee Steve Bullock for not joining on to a lawsuit, filed by other state attorneys general, that seeks to overturn President Obama’s health care law.

In response, the Democrats’ ad, from the DGA-affiliated group Montana Jobs, Energy, and Technology (JET) PAC, says Bullock saved the state thousands of dollars by declining to take part in the suit.


At The Weekly Standard, James Ceaser writes:
And what of Willard Romney? His nomination also marks an objective first, though the near total silence about this fact is deafening. Romney rarely calls attention to the fact that he is a Mormon. Besides revealing something of his personal style, this reticence reflects the recognition that this first is not being widely celebrated. Why this is so most likely has much to do with the disposition of those who distribute the awards for tolerance. These judges, deriving mostly from the intelligentsia, appear reluctant to celebrate Romney’s first for fear of diminishing the more prized achievement of President Obama, as if the nation were incapable of celebrating more than one feat of tolerance at a time; or, seeing the success of so many Mormons, they may consider that this group does not suffer sufficiently from duress to warrant the acknowledgment of a first, although group success did not deter the widespread celebration of Joseph Lieberman’s nomination for vice president in 2000. It might also be that many do not see Mormons as a genuine minority. Take away Mitt Romney’s religion, and he looks, walks, and talks every bit as much like the perfect WASP as that other non-Protestant nominee, John Kerry. The most likely explanation, however, is that the tolerance-anointers are not very excited about Mormons—they may even have friends who utter less than sensitive comments about them in private company. This last possibility has been artfully deflected by the creation of the impression that only conservative evangelicals oppose the election of a Mormon president. In fact, polls show that by far the greater opposition comes from Democrats.
At The Daily Beast, Peter Beinart adds:
Despite the media’s obsession with the alleged anti-Mormonism of evangelical Christians, the party with the larger anti-Mormon problem is the Democrats. According to Gallup, while only 18 percent of Republicans said they would oppose a Mormon candidate, among Democrats the figure was 27 percent. As if on cue, Montana’s Democratic governor, Brian Schweitzer, last week volunteered that women would not back Romney because his father was “born on a polygamy commune in Mexico.”

To its credit, the Obama campaign repudiated Schweitzer’s statement. But between now and Election Day, anti-Mormonism is going to be the Democratic Party’s constant temptation for one simple reason: there are votes in it.
One reason Democrats may be more anti-Mormon than Republicans is that Democrats, on average, are more secular. Devout Protestants, Catholics, and Jews may be more tolerant of Mormonism because they understand from firsthand experience the comfort and strength that religious commitment brings. Many secular Democrats, by contrast, may start with the assumption that religious orthodoxy produces irrationality and intolerance. I don’t think, for instance, that there’s any way to understand the hostility that many liberals felt toward Joseph Lieberman in the 1990s—long before he became associated with the Iraq War and the John McCain campaign—without understanding their hostility to what they perceived as his moralistic Orthodox Judaism. Democrats may exhibit greater suspicion of Mormonism, in other words, because they exhibit greater suspicion of all organized religion. It’s just that anti-Mormonism is still socially acceptable enough to confess to a pollster.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Polygamy Issue

Politico reports:
Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer isn’t backing away from controversial comments he made about Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith. Instead, the Democrat is doubling down.
Through a statement from a senior adviser, Schweitzer stood by his claim that Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, would have a hard time narrowing the gender gap with President Barack Obama because his “family came from a polygamy commune in Mexico,” and because women are “not great fans of polygamy.”
“The governor meant what he said, precisely. It has nothing to do with Mr. Romney’s faith or the Mormon church, both of which the governor knows reject polygamy,” Schweitzer adviser Eric Stern said in a statement to POLITICO.
“Rather, Mr. Schweitzer was describing a strategic problem that Romney faces, politically speaking: that Romney is in serious trouble with Hispanic voters because [he] took an ultra right-wing position on immigration during the primary; that to reach out to Hispanic voters Romney would probably like to be able to discuss the fact that his father was born in Mexico; but, that this is awkward for Romney to discuss, because it requires discussing, as well, the fact that his father was born into a polygamy colony.”
At NRO, Jim Gerraty writes:
To their credit, the Obama campaign responded appropriately: The Obama camp’s Lis Smith said, “Attacking a candidate’s religion is out of bounds, and our campaign will not engage in it, and we don’t think others should either.”
However, cynical minds might wonder if there is a strategic outsourcing of the below-the-belt attacks to surrogates not officially affiliated with the campaign.
Of course, if the Democrats want to make this race about which candidate is closer to a polygamist ancestor . . . we can play that game.
At The Washington Post, David Maraniss explains:
The line of polygamists in Obama’s family can be traced back generations in western Kenya, where it was an accepted practice within the Luo (pronounced LOO-oh) tribe. His great-grandfather, Obama Opiyo, had five wives, including two who were sisters. His grandfather, Hussein Onyango, had at least four wives, one of whom, Akumu, gave birth to the president’s father, Barack Obama, before fleeing her abusive husband. Obama Sr. was already married when he left Kenya to study at the University of Hawaii, where he married again. His American wife-to-be, Stanley Ann Dunham, was not yet 18 and unaware of his marital situation when she became pregnant with his namesake son in 1961.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Romney Campaign on Twitter

The Romney campaign has used Twitter to react to the dog story, as well as Hillary Rosen's disparagement of Ann Romney, among other things.  Zeke Miller writes at Buzzfeed:

Senior Obama campaign officials questioned the strategy, and said it reinforced the view among reporters that the Romney campaign is not ready for the big leagues of messaging to the broader electorate.
But capturing the inside conversation has always been a central goal of political campaigns. And the Romney campaign argues that the digital efforts yield quantifiable results — Twitter links further clicks to the campaign’s web videos and website by a significant multiple, and the narratives they push enters into the political conversation.
“Twitter is as it happens, and Facebook is the next day, and you optimize everything else for Google the day after,” said a senior aide. [emphasis added]
The Romney campaign went so far as to create a Twitter presence for Beth Myers, the long-time Romney adviser who will be leading the search for his running-mate — a job whose major requirement is discretion.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Dog Days

David Jackson writes at USA Today:
We hate to say it, but this presidential race has really gone to the dogs. 
First, it was backers of President Obama harping on Mitt Romney's 1983 decision to transport his dog in a crate atop the family car on a vacation trip; there's even a political group called "Dogs Against Romney." 
Now, Romney supporters cite a section of Obama's memoirs in which he talks about eating dog meat as a child; John McCain, Obama's 2008 opponent, tweeted out a picture of his son's dog and wrote: "Sorry, Mr. President, he's not on the menu."
From Dogs Against Obama:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Crossroads GPS: Whence the Money Came, Where It Went

Danny Yadron writes at The Wall Street Journal:
Crossroads GPS, the well-connected conservative advocacy group, raised $76.8 million from fewer than 100 donations in its first 19 months in operation, according to tax forms the group released Tuesday.
It’s the first time the nonprofit, co-founded by Republican operative Karl Rove, has released such data. The documents showed that Crossroads received two dozen donations for $1 million or more, as well as two for $10 million apiece between June 2010, when the group was founded, and the close of 2011.
Open Secrets reports that Crossroads GPS spent about $16 million on express advocacy in 2010, along  with another million on electioneering communications.
The sum of those two figures may not be all that Crossroads spent on politics in the 2010 cycle, though, since some spending -- depending on when and where it occurred, and in what form -- wouldn't necessarily be reported to the FEC or the IRS.
And, being careful to keep its spending on politics below 50 percent of its overall spending, Crossroads GPS gave grants to a dozen other 501(c)(4) organizations, including such groups as National Right to Life Association, American Action Network and Americans for Tax Reform. For each one, Crossroads listed "social welfare" as the purpose of the grant.
Five of the grantees spent more than $1 million on political ads in 2010. Americans for Tax Reform, for instance, received $4 million from Crossroads GPS, and spent $4.1 million on ads promoting or attacking candidates that year. The Center for Individual Freedom, a group that originally had ties to the tobacco lobby, got a $2.75 million gift from Crossroads, and spent $2.5 million on electioneering communications that benefited Republicans.

Crossroads is careful to say in its IRS Form 990 that the grants couldn't be used for the kind of advertising that expressly promotes the election or defeat of a candidate.
"Grants are accompanied by a letter of transmittal stating that the funds are to be used only for exempt purposes, and not for political expenditures, consistent with the organization's tax-exempt mission."
But money is fungible, and walling off a Crossroads grant for some specific purpose frees up other funds that can be used for other purposes, such as political ads.
Kenneth Vogel wrtites at Politico:
Crossroads’s role as a funder of the right was intended to mimic — and help offset — the millions of dollars that labor unions for years have directed to an array of liberal groups that help Democrats, including environmentalist and gay-rights outfits and, more recently, Democratic super PACs.
“The unions have spent literally hundreds of millions of dollars in this way,” asserted Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio. Crossroads is merely taking “a page out of the unions’ playbook by supporting philosophically aligned groups that share many of the same policy goals and have complementary assets,” he told POLITICO, adding that the “cross-fertilization of like-minded groups is critical to building an infrastructure for long-term policy change.”
The extent of Crossroads’s money role was revealed Tuesday when Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies – the shadowy nonprofit sister of the better known American Crossroads super PAC — released its tax filings for 2010 and 2011.
Some of the groups that received GPS funding directly participate in the so-called Weaver Terrace Group strategy sessions held regularly in Crossroads’s downtown Washington offices, where groups coordinate advertising strategy for different races across the country.
American Action Network, which accepted $500,000 from GPS in 2010, is a core member. Other attendees include NFIB; Americans for Tax Reform, which accepted $4 million from GPS; the 60 Plus Association, which accepted $50,000 from GPS; as well as the Republican Jewish Coalition. That group shares a pair of board members with American Action Network — former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman and veteran fundraiser Fred Malek — and in 2010, it donated $4 million each to Crossroads GPS and American Action Network, according to its tax filings.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Obama Has an Edge in the Ground War

At The New York Times, Micah Cohen notes that the Obama campaign has strong ground operations in swing states:


Cohen adds that Romney is behind but can catch up.  Nine of these states had primaries during the competitive phase of the nomination campaign.

Mr. Romney has many months to build that operation. In addition, once he is he official nominee, Mr. Romney will inherit the infrastructure being built by the Republican National Committee.
A national campaign’s localized outreach — field offices, staff and volunteers — helps a candidate contact voters in a more personal manner. Potential voters have been shown to be more receptive when contacted by someone in their community rather than by a television commercial or automated phone call.
In 2008, about a fourth of all voters were contacted in some way by the Obama campaign. Mr. McCain’s campaign contacted 18 percent of general-election voters. A FiveThirtyEight study from just after the 2008 election found that “each marginal 10-point advantage in contact rate translated into a marginal 3-point gain in the popular vote in that state.”
In 2008, Mr. Obama did not exactly need those few percentage points. But by many early measures, the 2012 election between Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney is shaping up as a much closer race than the 2008 contest, and a couple percentage points won by the hard work of local get-out-the-vote operations could make the difference. Mr. Obama has an early, but by no means insurmountable, lead in building such an apparatus

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"Rules" of Election Forecasting

Andrew Kohut writes at The New York Times:
With the focus now fully on the campaign between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, commentary about the issues, the voting blocs and the strategies of the two campaigns dominates political discourse. But having polled on the last 10 presidential elections, I’m struck by a meta-question about each candidate’s viability that may trump all else. Obama and Romney both carry so much political baggage that one or the other will have to defy modern political history to win in November.
For Mitt Romney, the history buster would be that no candidate in the modern polling era with personal favorability ratings as low as his has ever won the presidency. With a 29 percent rating, he is far and away the least personally popular presidential candidate since pollsters have been regularly checking favorability ratings.
Barack Obama is much more personally popular than Romney, but his problem is that no incumbent president has ever won re-election with unemployment rates as high as they are likely to be in November. The modest decline in the unemployment rate in the Labor Department’s March report – to 8.2 percent — adds to the challenge he faces. In recent times, only Ronald Reagan struggled with a comparably high unemployment rate (8 percent) at the start of his re-election year. However, it declined steadily over the course of 1984 and it stood at 7.2 percent by Election Day.
Also at the Times, Nate Silver offers a useful reminder:
A final and more general point is that there have been only 16 presidential elections since World War II. That simply isn’t a lot of data, and overly specific conclusions from them, like “no recent president has been re-elected with an unemployment rate over 8.0 percent” or “no recent incumbent has lost when he did not face a primary challenge,” are often not very meaningful in practice and will generally not carry much predictive weight.

Monday, April 16, 2012

American Crossroads v. Obama on Coal

On Friday, American Crossroads launched a new radio ad in coal country blasting President Obama’s policies on goal. The spot highlights United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts faulting the Obama administration.  From a release:
The advertisement, entitled “Cecil Roberts,” will start today on radio stations in western Pennsylvania, Southern Ohio and West Virginia in a total buy of $175,000. The spot can be listened to here.
The spot uses unfiltered comments by United Mine Workers president Cecil Roberts, from his interview with a West Virginia radio station where he berated President Obama for attacking the coal industry. You can listen to Roberts’ full interview here.
“Cecil Roberts’ undoctored comments speak volumes about President Obama’s extraordinary efforts to destroy the coal industry for thousands of hard-working families in coal country,” said American Crossroads communications director Jonathan Collegio. “When the top official of the United Mine Workers top says President Obama’s war on coal will destroy the way of life in coal country, you know it is time for change in the White House.”
New regulations proposed by the Obama Administration on coal could cost the coal-fired power plant industry up to $180 billion or more, causing electricity rates to increase between 11-23 percent, and cost literally hundreds of thousands of jobs in utilities, mining and other coal-related sectors of the economy, with a dramatic negative effect on the Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia economies.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Crossroads GPS Finances

Crossroads GPS, has made its draft tax forms available to The Washington Post, which reports:
An anonymous donor gave $10 million late last year to run ads attacking President Obama and Democratic policies, escalating the money race that is defining the 2012 presidential campaign. And in the new, free-wheeling environment of independent political giving, the identity of this donor, like many others, is likely to remain a permanent mystery.
The donation went to Crossroads GPS, the conservative nonprofit group founded with the support of political strategist Karl Rove. Another donor gave $10 million in the 2010 midterm elections, according to draft tax returns that provide the first detailed look at its finances.
The tax returns show that Crossroads GPS has collected the vast majority of its donations from the super-rich. The forms show that nearly 90 percent of its contributions through the end of 2011 had come from as few as two dozen donors, each giving $1 million or more. Overall, the nonprofit group raised more than $76 million since it was founded in May 2010 through the end of 2011.

Crossroads GPS reports in its tax filings spending just over $17 million on direct election spending, which since the Citizens United ruling can include hard-hitting attack ads.
Other spending by the group has focused on issues in the political arena, often a subtle distinction because the ads inevitably help one political figure or party. For instance, Crossroads GPS spent $16 million over the summer on ads pushing against tax increases during the debate over raising the debt ceiling. Overall, it reported about $27 million on that type of “grass-roots issue advocacy,” or about 35 percent of its total budget.
Crossroads GPS also reported giving roughly $16 million to a constellation of like-minded conservative groups, including $4 million to Americans for Tax Reform, the group run by conservative activist Grover Norquist that asks lawmakers to pledge not to vote for tax increases.Other donations included $3.7 million to the National Federation of Independent Business, which advocates for small businesses; and $2 million to the National Right to Life Committee.
Crossroads GPS wrote on its tax return that it sends with its grants a letter “stating that funds are to be used only for exempt purposes and not for political expenditures.” That allows it to count the grants as part of its “primary purpose” of social welfare.
Americans for Tax Reform spent roughly $4 million on political ads in 2010, according to FEC filings.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Pennsylvania Redistricting Shores Up GOP

Previous posts have described how redistricting seems to have shrunken the House battlefield. At Bloomberg Heidi Przybyla reports on the case of Pennsylvania:
Following redistricting in Pennsylvania, Republicans Jim Gerlach, Patrick Meehan and Lou Barletta -- previously considered top targets for Democrats because they represent districts that elected President Barack Obama by wide margins in 2008 -- aren’t in the first or second tier of Democratic opportunities, according to the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report.
“It’s a pretty amazing redraw to go from one of the top races in the country to not even on the list,” said Nathan Gonzales, deputy editor at Rothenberg. Through redistricting, “in many states, Republicans shored up the gains they already made in 2010,” he said.
Republicans shaped Barletta’s district into a narrow band that stretches almost from Pennsylvania’s border with Maryland to New York. By conceding the neighboring district to Holden, a former county sheriff in his 10th term of office, Republicans bolstered Barletta and Republican Tom Marino by adding more Republican-rich precincts to their districts.
Ohio Republicans followed the same strategy, creating a new Democratic district in Columbus to shore up seats outside the city. “That just shows you what their focus has been,” said [Cook Political Report's David] Wasserman.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Democratic incumbents Jason Altmire and Mark Critz are in a primary competition for the single district Republicans packed them into, shaped like a shovel digging into the south-central part of the state beyond Johnstown and stretching to the Ohio border past Pittsburgh. The new map gave Republican Pat Meehan an additional 35,000 to 40,000 rural voters, who tend to be Republican.
“Republicans this time were not expansionist, they were not imperialist,” said Terry Madonna, who teaches politics at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “It’s one of the most efficient, effective gerrymanders in history.”

Friday, April 13, 2012

Santorum's Exit

At CBS, Rebecca Kaplan reports on the real reasons behind Santorum's exit:
When Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid on Tuesday, he spoke about the illness of his three-year-old daughter, Bella, and expressed a desire to spend more time with her as a parent. But on Thursday, the former Pennsylvania senator suggested the decision largely came down instead to a simple reality: He was out of cold, hard cash.

After losing Wisconsin's April 3 primary to rival Mitt Romney by seven points - a contest, Santorum said, that his campaign viewed as necessary to win in order to do well in his home state of Pennsylvania - his fundraising dried up.

"For the first time the campaign had a debt, the debt was from my perspective a little bit more substantial than I was comfortable with. And I'll be honest with you, Tony, in the last week after Wisconsin we basically raised almost no money," Santorum told Family Research Council President Tony Perkins in a radio interview, his first since announcing he was ending his bid. "We had solicitations going out and people were just emailing back saying the race is over and you gotta join the crew and there were others who would say not but it was a very, very small trickle of funds that were coming in."
Santorum had also been hoping that Gingrich would withdraw and that Pennsylvania would go his way.  But Newt stayed in and polls showed that the state was trending to Romney.

Though Santorum will get with the team, BuzzFeed saved his toughest anti-Romney ads. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Redistricting and the House Majority

Redistricting may have shrunken the battlefield, as Naftali Bendavid writes at The Wall Street Journal:
Throughout history, Republicans and Democrats alike have used the reshaping of congressional districts to increase the number of House seats they can win. What's different this time is that Republicans, in states such as Pennsylvania where they have control of the process, are focused instead on fortifying the seats they already hold. They are trying to bolster vulnerable Republican incumbents, including freshman legislators swept into office in the party's 2010 midterm tidal wave.
With Republicans so strong at the state level, their strategy of focusing on shoring up shaky seats gives Democrats a steeper hill to climb. David Wasserman, who follows House races for the Cook Political Report, estimates Republicans have lifted 20 to 25 once-vulnerable incumbents out of the danger zone, enough to transform the battle.
"When you can take about half of the freshmen that you elected and make the seats better, that's good," says Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia, the House Republicans' point man on redistricting. "The odds are very slim of the Democrats taking the House back."


Obama and Independents

Resurgent Republic reports on focus-group research:
As part of our Target Voter Series, Resurgent Republic sponsored four focus groups among Independent voters in Denver, Colorado and Richmond, Virginia. These respondents all voted for President Obama in 2008, but are undecided on the generic presidential ballot today.
Conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, the focus groups were split by gender.
In 2008 President Obama won a majority of the national vote due to his strong performance among Independents (52 to 44 percent), and as a result, he began his presidency with a deep reservoir of goodwill among swing voters. Due to Obama’s fiscal policies, it didn’t take long for his support among this target demographic to fray, as shown in our inaugural April 2009 national survey. A rebellion of the center erupted in 2010 as Democrats lost control of the House and were defeated in several battleground gubernatorial races. Ever since that point, President Obama has sought to win back swing voters, a task that will undoubtedly continue to Election Day.
After three-and-a-half years of his presidency, these Obama Independents still like the President, even if they moderately disapprove of the job he is doing. Yet the President’s personal likeability does not prevent many of these Independents from concluding (1) Obama has not delivered according to their expectations and (2) things are not getting better when considering the overall trend line from 2009 to today. The battle for swing voters will evolve once a Republican nominee emerges, but President Obama remains in a precarious position with these voters when their attention is focused on his record.
Additional key findings include:
  • It’s premature for politicians to take credit for any positive economic news since these voters believe the economy is improving too slowly or not at all.
  • The Independents in all four groups disapprove of both parties in Congress in clear, unmistakable terms.
  • There’s growing frustration due to the perceived abuse of government benefits, including unemployment compensation and welfare assistance.
  • Both Keystone and Solyndra are liabilities for Obama but for different reasons. The President's actions on the Keystone pipeline contradict an "all of the above" energy policy, and Solyndra puts Obama in the context of "just another politician."
Also see the infographic on Obama-as-car.

Who will be this year’s decisive group? Swing Independents.
Third Way’s newest poll with Global Strategy Group looks at 1,000 Independents in battleground states and identifies a bloc of voters who are truly up-for-grabs in 2012: Swing Independents.
There’s good news for the President: Swing Independents have positive views of Obama, but they are not locked down. So far Swing Indys prefer President Obama by 6 points, but over one-third are undecided. The Congressional ballot is virtually tied, with nearly 6 in 10 undecided.
We find that Swing Independents are “opportunity” voters—preferring an optimistic, opportunity framework on the economy over one based on fairness. Why? Opportunity addresses their anxieties about the future, concerns that America is slipping, doubts about how the next generation will succeed, and questions over how we will strengthen our economy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Crossroads GPS v. Obama on Energy

Byron Tau writes at Politico:
Crossroads GPS, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the GOP super PAC American Crossroads, is going up against President Obama in five states with an ad buy totaling $1.7 million.
The ad airs Wednesday morning on both broadcast and cable networks in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia — and attacks President Obama for taking credit for Bush-era energy exploration and drilling.
"President Obama’s ‘hope and change’ has deteriorated into hype and blame – puffing up his record and blaming others for policy failures," said Crossroads GPS president Steven Law in a statement. "This ad sets the record straight and calls for real solutions to sky-high gas prices, not more political spin."
It's part of an initial ad blitz by the GOP independent group aimed at defining Obama for general election voters — and giving the Republican nominee, now more than likely Mitt Romney, some time and space to ramp up the fundraising and build a ground organization.  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Inevitability of Romney

In the latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, conducted April 5-8, 2012, roughly three-quarters (74%) of Republican and Republican-leaning voters say that Romney will definitely be the Republican Party’s nominee this fall. Only 21% believe a candidate other than Romney still has a chance to become the party’s nominee.
And Republicans’ appetite for the ongoing primary campaign has soured. By a 47% to 36% margin, more say it is a bad for the party, not good, that the nomination race has not yet been decided and is still going on. Just a month ago, Republicans were split on this question, and as recently as February a majority thought it was a good thing for the party that the nomination had not yet been finalized.
On "Fox News Sunday," Gingrich acknowledged Romney's likely nomination:
HUME: Let's talk about you a little bit and where you see yourself going here. You seemed reconciled to the likelihood, if not the inevitability, of Mitt Romney as your party's nominee.
GINGRICH: Well, I think you have to be realistic, given the size of his organization, given the number of primaries he's won. He is far and away, the most likely Republican nominee. And if he does get to 1,144 delegates, I'll support him. I'll do everything I can this fall to help him defeat Obama.
The primary goal of the entire Republican Party has to be, to defeat Barack Obama. That makes this maybe the most important election of our lifetime.

Monday, April 9, 2012

"Orphan State Parties"

Because of the winner-take-all electoral college system everywhere except Maine and Nebraska, the national campaigns will tend to skip states that are sure to vote for one candidate or the other.  Problems may ensue downticket, as Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns write at Politico:
National Republicans have begun to intervene in a handful of key Senate and House battlegrounds where state parties are in disarray, seeking to head off the possibility that local mismanagement could cost the party control of Congress.
The GOP presidential nominee will be impacted by the state party woes, but what especially worries Republican operatives are those states where there is no competition on top of the ticket but which feature a number of pivotal Senate and House contests.

These “orphan states,” most notably behemoths with traditionally weak parties like California, Illinois and New York, are increasingly the focus of top GOP officials in the nation’s capital this spring.
Because of coordination rules, party officials would prefer that the parties do GOTV instead of the super PACs.
“It makes it difficult for the ground game,” lamented a senior Republican about what he called “the welfare states.” “If the country is divided again like it was in ’04 the ground game makes a difference.”
California is in tough shape.
We’re just going to have to do a work-around,” said Jeff Miller, a top Sacramento Republican who served as finance chair of the California GOP in 2010. “Latino voter outreach, voter registration and candidate recruitment are all going to have to be done through vehicles outside the state party.”
The cash disparity is stark in California, where redistricting could bring more than 10 competitive House races this year. State Democrats began the year with $9.3 million — that’s not just in federal funds — while California Republicans had less than $439,000. That’s in part because of the money the state GOP spent on an unsuccessful attempt at blocking the newly-redrawn state Senate map.
“A lot of donors here were upset that that’s what their money was getting spent on,” said Rob Stutzman, a California-based GOP strategist.
A third California Republican operative grumbled about ideologically-driven activists being more interested in party purges than winning elections. This Republican noted that the first big party gathering after their dismal 2010 showing was marked not by soul-searching about what went wrong but was dominated by a resolution about whether GOP legislators who supported allowing voters to decide how to fill the budget deficit should be deemed as “traitorous” and recalled from office.
“The party has been co-opted by some folks who aren’t very good at raising money or winning elections,” said the California Republican. “As a political party that really renders you irrelevant, which is what has happened here.”

American Crossroads to Campaign Against Obama

The New York Times reports that American Crossroads is about to launch a major ad attack on President Obama.
Steven J. Law, the group’s leader, said the ads would address the challenge of unseating a president who polls show is viewed favorably even though many people disapprove of his handling of the economy. Basically, Mr. Law said, “how to dislodge voters from him.”


The Crossroads advertising push — the timing of which has been the subject of avid speculation at the Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago — would give the campaign of Mitt Romney, the Republican front-runner, the time and cover to map out its national organization, replenish its bank account and put the finishing touches on its own long-discussed advertising plan, which is expected to highlight the economic pain of ordinary Americans.
“There’s a sense of anxiety out there that’s tremendous,” Mr. Stevens said. “It’s home heating costs, it’s gas prices, the price of food is up. What about people’s everyday lives is easier today than it was four years ago?”
But, Mr. Law said, Crossroads research suggests that Mr. Obama’s campaign has started to gain traction among critical swing voters by arguing that Republicans, including Mr. Romney, favor an “economic plutocracy” in which middle-class voters can no longer count on financial security, even though they work hard and play by the rules.

“His argument is: ‘The reason you feel bad is not because I’ve been an inadequate president but because the rules of the game are stacked against you,’ ” Mr. Law said. Calling it a “dystopian vision,” he added, “that narrative has some gravitational pull.”

But, Mr. Law said, interviews with independent voters, as well as uncommitted Democrats and Republicans who supported Mr. Obama in 2008, have revealed an alternate “emerging view” that Crossroads will seek to solidify, “that Obama just may not be up to the job, he can’t seem to fix things he promised he would fix.”
Third Way reports:
Third Way’s newest poll with Global Strategy Group looks at 1,000 Independents in battleground states and identifies a bloc of voters who are truly up-for-grabs in 2012: Swing Independents.
There’s good news for the President: Swing Independents have positive views of Obama, but they are not locked down. So far Swing Indys prefer President Obama by 6 points, but over one-third are undecided. The Congressional ballot is virtually tied, with nearly 6 in 10 undecided.
We find that Swing Independents are “opportunity” voters—preferring an optimistic, opportunity framework on the economy over one based on fairness. Why? Opportunity addresses their anxieties about the future, concerns that America is slipping, doubts about how the next generation will succeed, and questions over how we will strengthen our economy.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Google Ads and the Camaign

At The Washington Post, T.W. Farnam writes:
Type in a Google search for the words “immigration reform,” and in the split second it takes for your results to pop up, the president’s reelection campaign may begin courting you. Up comes an ad for barack­, next to the search results.
And if you take the next step and click through to the campaign’s Web site, ads for the president’s reelection may start following you around the Web.
The Obama campaign, and to a lesser extent its GOP rivals, has embraced the potential of the Internet age to reach possible supporters this election season.
The president’s campaign has bought Google advertising space next to all sorts of searches, including “Warren Buffett,” “Obama singing,” “Obama birthday” and, for basketball fans, “Obama bracket.”
The assumption is that people interested in those topics may also fit the profile of potential Obama backers, making them perfect targets for a strategically placed ad.
The president is not alone in this. Mitt Romney has bought advertising space next to his father’s name, for example, and Rick Santorum has gone for the term “Rush Limbaugh,” according to Hitwise, a company that samples Internet traffic. The ads are rotated on and off the search pages, and campaigns often purchase the ad space for short periods.

 Here is a screenshot as of this morning:

Saturday, April 7, 2012

RNC is Back

At The New York Times, Nicholas Confessore reports that Reince Priebus has pulled RNC out of its tailspin, raising over $110 million and retiring more than half its debt.
One role that the committee has filled in the past when the party was out of power — pounding the president with early television advertising — has been taken up by outside groups like American Crossroads, founded by Karl Rove. That has allowed the committee and its chairman, Reince Priebus, to focus on rebuilding the party’s network of large donors.


“Reince’s job, as he says, is to spend 80 percent of his time on the telephone and the other 20 percent at state party dinners,” said Frank J. Donatelli, a former deputy chairman at the committee. “There was a donor strike of sorts at the end of 2010. What he has done is regain the confidence of those major donors.”

At a time when Mr. Romney and other candidates have struggled to raise money, the committee’s fund-raising success has allowed it to move quickly into a general election posture, even before the emergence of a nominee and the flood of money to the party that usually accompanies it. While the party has run some advertising against Mr. Obama — including commercials in six swing states attacking his health care overhaul and timed to last week’s Supreme Court hearings — it has used most of its money, and the freedom afforded by super PAC advertising against Mr. Obama, to focus on its strength: identifying and turning out Republican voters.

“The R.N.C. is the only organization that can spend money directly on the ground game and organizing the states,” said Alfred Hoffman Jr., one of the country’s top Republican fund-raisers and a former finance chairman of the committee. “A super PAC can’t do that.”

The party has also revamped its voter database, known as Voter Vault, which was built during Mr. Bush’s tenure but fell into disrepair after he left office. The new system will allow what committee officials there call “nano-targeting,” collecting far more detailed demographic and consumer data on Republican voters than the earlier version.

“We will be the gold standard of Republican get-out-the-vote efforts,” Mr. Priebus said in a statement. “We are at least 90 days ahead of where the R.N.C. has ever been in history.”

Friday, April 6, 2012

Not-So-Good Employment Numbers

James Pethokoukis writes at The American:
Swing and a miss. A big miss. A really big miss. U.S. employers added just 120,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said on Friday. That’s the smallest increase since October. Economists polled by Reuters had expected nonfarm employment to increase by 203,000. And as economist Robert Brusca points out, “The strong amazing run in household jobs came to a crashing halt as employment in that survey fell by 31,000 after rising by 42,000 last month and 847,000 the month before that.”
Then there’s the unemployment rate, which dipped to 8.2% from 8.3% the month before. That extends the longest streak of 8%-plus unemployment since the Great Depression.
But the true measure of U.S. unemployment is far worse:
Then there’s the broader, U-6 measure of unemployment which includes the discouraged plus part-timers who wish they had full time work. That unemployment rate, perhaps the truest measure of the labor market’s health, is still a sky-high 14.5%.
...The employment-population ratio dipped to 58.5% vs. 61% in December 2008. An historically low level of the U.S. population is actually working.

Romney, Super PACs and 501 Groups

Previous posts have noted Romney's links to outside groups. At Open Secrets, Robert Maguire writes:
Yesterday the long-developing ties between two Republican super PACs and Mitt Romney's campaign grew stronger when the campaign announced that veteran GOP strategist Ed Gillespie would come aboard as a senior adviser.

Gillespie is a founder of and adviser to American Crossroads, which has stockpiled $26.9 million so far this election cycle, much of which is expected to be spent helping the Republican nominee; it's increasingly likely that will be Romney. Another Crossroads adviser is Carl Forti, who is also president of the pro-Romney Restore Our Future super PAC.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The two super PACs, awash in money, share a number of benefactors. Many of the largest donors to Crossroads are also major donors to Restore Our Future, and vice versa. And many have maxed out to the Romney campaign itself, which has been struggling, relatively speaking, to raise cash.

Other donors are and likely will remain completely unknown to the public because they’ve given to Crossroads GPS, a 501(c)(4) group linked to American Crossroads that does not have to disclose the sources of its funds. OpenSecrets Blog has been able to find at least one documented donation of $4 million to the group by the Republican Jewish Coalition. A number of Romney donors sit on the board of RJC, and a handful of them -- Paul Singer, David Flaum, Lewis Eisenberg and Sam Fox -- are also major donors to Restore Our Future.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Steven Law Talks About the Campaign

American Crossroads President and CEO Steven Law discusses the2012 race on Varney and Co.    

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Troubling Economic Numbers for Obama

Josh Boak writes at Politico:
Americans’ take-home pay — one of the critical economic benchmarks for presidents seeking reelection — declined in January and February.

Research shows that the amount of money Americans earn after taxes and inflation is one of the most reliable predictors of a president’s November chances — more so than the unemployment rate. In the past year, most Americans have barely seen a bump in earnings, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

But the figures for the past two months create the potential for an even more dire situation for the White House: Wages increased at a slower rate than energy prices, so the measure known as disposable personal income dropped. With take-home pay effectively falling 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent in January and February, respectively. If take-home pay continues to fall, as it has for the first two months of the year, President Barack Obama would be lucky to get 45 percent of the vote, according to a model developed by former Harvard University professor Douglas Hibbs.
From the Bureau of Economic Analysis

Fat Lady Has Busy Day

A certain cliche grabbed Mitt Romney's coattails last night.

From Newser:  "Did you hear it? The sound of the fat lady singing as Mitt Romney swept Wisconsin, Maryland, and DC last night? These pundits sure did."
From The Washington Post: "That sound you hear? It’s the fat lady singing."
From ABC: "It is done. Fini. The fat lady has sung."
From Joe Scarborough: "Regardless, the fat lady has sung."


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Seniors and the Campaign

Resurgent Republic reports on a focus group of seniors:
When asked how they will evaluate President Obama come November, most respondents in our Target Voter Series pointed to the economy or their personal financial situation. These seniors were consistent with that theme, but this target voter group added the quality and cost of health care as a top priority. Many surveys have shown that health care is a top priority for older females, while older men tend to worry more about fiscal issues. In our groups, however, senior males and females were equally likely to bring up the health care issue.
Additional key findings include:
  • With few exceptions, these seniors were satisfied with their current health care coverage and nervous about changing what is perceived as a good thing.
  • These seniors recalled few specifics of ObamaCare. Recall of what is in the legislation ranges from very fuzzy to non-existent. However, when reminded, they did express negative reactions to specific features like the individual mandate, Independent Payment Advisory Board, and Medicare cuts.
  • Seniors tended to cite the "wars" as more of a leading cause of the nation’s escalating debt crisis than entitlement spending.
  • Since many of these voters have a fixed income, they were acutely aware of changes in home values and everyday costs (i.e., health care, food, and gas prices).

Monday, April 2, 2012

Shrinking Traditional TV Audience Spawns Targeted Online Ads

Jeremy W. Peters writes at The New York Times:
Just because you own a D.V.R. or watch television online does not mean political commercials are not coming soon to a screen near you.

Mitt Romney’s campaign thinks it has found a way to get its ads in front of the increasing number of voters who are not watching traditional television: Find these people online, and show them the ads there.

Here in Wisconsin, where the Republican primary is Tuesday, carefully targeted potential voters will see two Romney commercials on their Web browsers. One is a positive message hailing the candidate’s economic and business credentials. The other is an attack criticizing Rick Santorum as a Washington insider who compromises his core beliefs.

Both commercials, which have been running on local television stations across the state, have gone unseen by many voters — up to one-third of them, by some estimates.

The Romney campaign and a team of online behavior analysts have spent 18 months trying to fight television advertising’s law of diminishing returns, sifting through data on the browsing habits of tens of millions of computer users as the campaign builds a richly detailed cache of potential supporters.

In doing so, Mr. Romney’s strategists are hoping to turn the Web into a political persuasion tool, signaling a shift in the way modern campaigns view digital advertising. It is no longer merely a supplement for traditional media like television. In some cases, it is a substitute entirely.

A survey conducted last May on voters’ television viewing habits, which is often cited by Romney advisers, found that 31 percent of likely voters had not watched television “live” — that is, at the time it was being broadcast, as opposed to online or on a recording device — in the previous week. And of the 17 percent who said they mostly watched programs recorded on devices like a D.V.R., a large majority skipped through ads most of the time. [emphasis added] The nationwide telephone survey was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican polling firm, and SEA Polling and Strategic Design, a Democratic polling firm.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Cost Per Vote, Cost Per Delegate

At National Journal, Major Garrett does the math:
The Paul math goes like this: According to his latest filing with the Federal Election Commission, Paul has spent $32,766,465. He's received 1,079,753 votes for a cost-per-vote total of $30.35. He's won 66 delegates for a cost-per-delegate total of $496,461.
Doug Wead, a senior Paul adviser offered the following:
"The delegate counts, such as those promoted by the New York Times and The Associated Press are pure media fiction. So your delegate-per-dollar is skewed. For example, they (NYT and AP) say the delegate count in Iowa is Santorum 14, Romney 12 and Paul 1. We have one delegate in Iowa? Hmm. I don't want to reveal too much, but our delegate strategy is doing just fine and it is worth every dollar."
Maybe so. But the raw numbers based on available delegate counts don't look good for Paul.

Romney's cost-per-vote (CPV) total is $16.18. His cost-per-delegate (CPD) is $118,218.
The math: $66,793,395 spent with 4,127,917 votes and 565 delegates.
Santorum's CPV is an amazing $4.56 cents. That's just over a quarter of Romney's and about a seventh of Paul's.

Santorum's CPD is $50,873.
He's spent $13,023,588 and won 2,850,546 votes and 256 delegates. Imagine if Romney or Paul were this efficient? Imagine if the federal government or a private business was this efficient?