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They Pack a Wallop

The super-PAC juggernaut.

Jul 2, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 40 • By FRED BARNES
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Maine, where Olympia Snowe is retiring, is considered a long shot, but Republicans haven’t given up. Five seats are viewed as first tier, four held by Democrats (Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri), one by a Republican (Nevada). These will attract the most super-PAC attention​—​and money. The status of Massachusetts, where Republican Scott Brown is seeking a full six-year term, is unclear, but holding his seat is crucial to GOP hopes of a Senate majority.

The second-tier seats are held by Democrats (four of whom are retiring): Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, New Mexico, Hawaii. Romney is seen as the crucial factor: As he goes in these states, so go the Republican Senate candidates.

The warchests of the super-PACs represent a change in the financial well-being of the parties. In 2008, Obama and Democrats heavily outspent Republicans. This year, independent Republican groups may double the spending of their Democratic counterparts, and Romney may roughly match Obama in fundraising.

Given their advantage, Republicans have the luxury of experimenting. In a House district in New York, they bought a campaign popup on YouTube, expecting about 2 percent of viewers would click to watch their ad. As it turned out, 15 percent did.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.

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