It’s hard to make definitive judgments based on anecdotal reports in the couple days just before a national election. But I’ve heard enough to come to the tentative conclusions that lots of SuperPAC dollars are currently being poured into markets where they can have little or no effect on a contested race. So why is that?
As I’ve noted, some readers suspect that it’s an effort to run up the popular vote for Romney in anticipation of an Obama win in the electoral college — what we general call ‘winning the election.’ My own sense is that this is at best an unintended or fringe benefit.
I suspect what we’re seeing is a collision of a couple different key aspects of modern campaigning. First is the hyper focus on a few key swing states. And second is what may turn out to be quite simply too much money going to the SuperPACs. Not too much in some moral or civic sense but too much in that there’s literally nothing left to spend it on. Remember there are only so many TV and radio stations in Ohio, Florida and Virginia. The time is probably all bought up — actually, almost certainly has been for some time.
An added complexity is that it is very difficult for SuperPACs to invest in ground operations and get out of the vote work. So they’re pretty restricted to just TV, radio and internet ads.
Remember, Sheldon Adelson has already given you the money. It’s sitting in the bank account. And not even sure legally these SuperPACs would be able to give it back. The logistics of needing to do something with the money are real — especially if you’re going to need to explain to your billionaire how Romney lost and you still had money left over that you didn’t spend. But that brings us to the other key point … The Money, the big big money.
The folks who run these PACs and Committees have consultants who place the ads, they have houses who make the ads. It’s all a pretty open secret that these things work very incestuously and by hook or by crook the folks running running these organizations get a big big taste of the action themselves. So you may be wondering if that Romney SuperPAC ad running non-stop in Chicago and Dallas isn’t money going to waste. But I guarantee you that the commissions being made off that spending amount to blindingly large bonanzas for the people actually running these outfits.
So that’s my read. We got the money. We ain’t giving back. So let’s just put it everywhere we can. The third beach front home is just as sweet whether the ads mattered or not.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.