Thursday, January 12, 2012

Citizens Divided via SuperPac

As anti-Romney billionaires fund SuperPacs in support of Gingrich, Huntsman and Santorum, it's obvious that the Citizens United decision has remade the political playing field.  What has traditionally been big money in campaign finance  -- say, $15 million in a quarter raised by a candidate for a major-party presidential nomination -- is chump change to the likes of Sheldon Adelson, Foster Friess and Jon Huntsman, Sr. (their contributions thus far may reach only a large fraction of that level, but give them time). Any candidate who shows a pulse can be insta-funded; any attack that suits a billionaire's agenda can be micro-targeted or broadcast.  A nomination that would be wrapped up under the old rules may not still be competitive - -but the level of advertising attack that Romney and Gingrich have sustained or will sustain is unprecedented in a primary race.

In some cases, American voters have shown some antibodies against campaign advertising (see: Huckabee, Iowa; Santorum, Iowa).   We're going to have to develop stronger ones. Perhaps the barrage of internecine attacks will be self-cancelling.

Or maybe, just maybe, if enough Republicans are gored and gutted this cycle by SuperPacAttacks, we'll see a new round of campaign finance reform.  Especially if they destroy their nominee.

P.S. How about a billionaires' truce? Warren Buffett, on behalf of Obama, promises to match all SuperPac funding on the GOP side -- and they all agree to keep their money instead.

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