In previous election cycles, super PACs — which can raise unlimited donations from corporations and individuals alike — largely channeled money from wealthy donors into political advertising. But now they are branching out into what had seemed a fundamental function of a campaign committee: organizing voters one at a time.
Candidates “are pushing as much of the stuff as they can over to the super PACs because that’s where the real money is,” said Terry Giles, who recently quit as the campaign manager for Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, to start a super PAC that will support him.
The practice of having super PACS, which can be entirely financed by a single billionaire, take over such operations allows campaigns, which may raise only $2,700 from any one donor, to outsource the costly, labor-intensive work of recruiting activists and building lists of supporters.
It could also allow second-tier candidates to be more competitive, prolonging the nominating process. And in the general election, a Republican nominee whose organizing is paid for by a super PAC might level the playing field with Democrats, whose allies in labor have traditionally given the party an edge in mustering volunteers to help turn out voters.
But there are risks to outsourcing a field campaign. Candidates, who are legally forbidden to coordinate with super PACs, are in danger of being cut off from their most ardent supporters as they head into caucus and primary elections