We’ve written before about “single-candidate super PACs,” outside spending groups that exist solely to support or oppose a sole office-seeker. Last cycle, virtually every presidential candidate had at least one dedicated super PAC. Some are managed by the candidate’s close associates, most notablyRestore Our Future, last cycle’s top-spending super PAC and one of Mitt Romney’s most important allies; others are run by wealthy outsiders with no connection to the candidateexcept a shared ideology.
Now, we’ve given these groups a permanent home on our site. Our single-candidate super PAC page will put these groups in focus and highlight their growing importance.
Conservatives have dominated the single-candidate super PAC scene in both the 2012 and 2014 cycles (so far), outspending their liberal counterparts by about three-to-one. Of the 30 single-candidate groups that have reported independent expenditures this cycle, 26 lean conservative – although the largest, Put Alaska First PAC, backs Democrat Mark Begich. This is partly a reflection of the importance of super PACs in primaries, where a few million dollars in independent expenditures can make or break a candidacy; most of the hottest primary battles in 2012 and 2014 have been Republican contests.The Washington Post reports:
As one of their first to-do items, congressional hopefuls are now asked to identify wealthy family members, friends or business associates willing to spend on behalf of their candidacies. As a result, deep-pocketed political patrons and special interests have a greater ability than ever before to influence the outcome of individual races, with a relatively modest investment of funds.
“It is the norm this cycle,” said Saul Anuzis, a former Michigan Republican Party chairman, noting that he told every potential candidate to identify generous friends and family members. “Anybody giving advice to campaigns that did not recommend super PACs as part of the strategy mix would be committing political malpractice.”
So far in 2014, at least 64 such groups have poured more than $21 million into television ads, mailers and robo-calls to help their chosen candidates, according to campaign finance data collected by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. That means such groups are on track to far exceed the nearly $31 million spent in the 2012 elections by 42 super PACs focused on individual congressional candidates, according to data analyzed by the advocacy group Public Citizen.