Super Tuesday has arrived and with it, so has the full might of the Super PACs.
Ten states go to the polls today but all eyes are on Ohio, where former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney could add to the distance between him and the rest of the pack needed to solidify his claim on the nomination. With the stakes this high, Super PAC spending has risen to the challenge, dumping $11.9 million on the races.
Again, it's Ohio, with its 66 total delegates up for grabs, that's become a veritable money pit. HuffPo's Paul Blumenthal puts the spending in perspective:
The definitely not coordinating with Mitt Romney Super PAC Restore Our Future, which raised $6.6 million in January, has spent $6.7 million across four Super Tuesday states: Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Ohio, where his Super PAC is outspending Rick Santorum's Red, White & Blue 3 to 1. Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich's Winning Our Future, which raised $11 million in January, is fighting to pull out a win in his home state of Georgia with massive ad buys.
But it is in Ohio where the real distortion, the pervese effect that this unlimited spending is having on our elections is put in relief. After all, who is Mitt Romney (estimated net worth around $200 million) and Rick Santorum (estimated net worth at least $1 million) trying to court most in this primary? Blue collar voters! Ohioans whose median household income was $47,361 in 2010.
In our recent report, Auctioning Democracy: The Rise of Super PACs and the 2012 Election, we referenced a Gallup poll that highlighted the divergence in priorities between the wealthy individuals, like those that fund Super PACS, and average-earning Americans. It's worth revisiting for this Ohio contest, and will be worth revisiting many, many more times through November: