The 2012 Presidential Election Will be Determined by Super PACs and the Super Rich

Our political system is under siege by large super PACs and the consultants who organize them. What’s more disturbing is that consultants are blatantly revealing how easy it is to form these PACs, raise money from wealthy contributors, and decide how to apply the money. Like it or not, large donors will have a huge impact on who is elected to office in 2012. And after the elections, the donors will be able to exert undue influence on our government.

An article in the New York Times today, titled “Super PACs Are Letting Strategists Off the Leash” unabashedly reveals the growing and frightening power of super PACs and their organizers. The latter are quoted saying how easy it is to do this business without interference from candidate spouses, advisors, etc. However, before delving into the news story, we all need to appreciate how votes are obtained in today's new world.

No doubt, TV and radio advertising are by far the most effective ways to get votes; it is also the most expensive form of political campaigning. When you read stories about how the Obama and Romney campaigns will spend upwards of $1 billion each on advertising, consider that a large percentage of these amounts will be spent by organizations, which are not controlled by the candidates. The candidates can raise as much money as they can from individuals, but the amounts are capped per person. The really big money comes from “independent” super PACs.

As the New York Times article stated, “Decisions about attack ads and negative campaigning that once weighted on candidates are now made by consultants and donors with little or no accountability.” The scary thing is that voters respond to TV and radio barrages by these groups.

The business of super PACs has made political consulting much easier. According to the article, “If you’re a top consultant today, you’d much rather have a presidential super PAC than a presidential campaign . . . no bitter strategy debates . . . only wealthy donors and consultants vying to oblige them.”

Is it then possible that a handful of political consultants and their benefactors will decide who is elected our next president? Yes, absolutely. SCOTUS has changed our electoral process permanently unless the Constitution (or the makeup of the court) is changed. We are under siege, and the candidates who raise the most money will likely be our leaders.