By Alvina Lopez
The seemingly endless road to selecting the Republican presidential nominee has been fueled by a number of factors unique to the current political climate. For one, the Republican Party as a whole has been fractured in recent years with the emergence of the Tea Party and the resurgence of social conservatives. The nomination process has all but reflected the confused identity of the present Republican Party, where at times widespread popularity and support gravitated to a Texas governor, a former pizza magnate, and a former Speaker of the House. And the media has been sure to catalogue every moment of this process, which is why you can’t turn on the radio or the television without hearing about the upcoming primary in any state.
But there’s a bigger explanation to why we’ve heard about the primary race for so long, one that may define the future of political campaigning. Contentious political climate in the Republican Party notwithstanding, the primary process has dragged on for so long mainly because so many candidates boast massive funds in their campaign war chests. Even if each candidate’s campaign doesn’t have tons of cash on hand, they can rely on affiliated Super PACs to work in their favor.
So how prominently do Super PACs factor into the race for the Republican nomination?
Depending on who you ask, some sources will say that Super PACs are the only thing keeping some campaigns alive. According to a recent article in USA Today, the majority of Republican super PACs are funded by donors who give more than $500,000 to the candidates they support. That means that, at least for the Republican primary, campaign direction is being driven by wealthy corporations or individuals with deep pockets. The political convictions of a few people can influence the entire landscape of a political race.
For example, the USA Today article reports that Newt Gingrich’s Super PAC, Winning Our Future, received a staggering 96% of its funds from individuals who donated over $500,000, and those funds mostly came from two people. One could argue that Mr. Gingrich’s campaign, which many political analysts have written off as a lost cause, is pressing on the dime of two people. And with these funds, Mr. Gingrich can still have a powerful impact on the direction of the political conversation among Republicans; the supportive Super PAC can use their funds for endless radio and TV attack ads against his opponents in each primary state.
The 2010 Supreme Court decision that allowed for the creation of Super PACs—whereby donors can contribute unlimited funds in support of a candidate—has certainly shaped this year’s presidential race. Who knows which candidate would have enjoyed success among voters without the millions of dollars in Super PAC spending?
Mitt Romney has recently declared a victory in the Illinois Republican primary contest, and yet his opponents vow to press on despite significantly fewer delegates to their names. And why not? They have millions from their Super PACs to press on until the bitter end.
How do you think Super PACs are shaping this year’s presidential race?
Alvina Lopez is a freelance writer and blog junkie, who blogs about accredited online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: alvina.lopez @gmail.com.