In Ohio, Battle of the Super PACs

Democratic PACs have been wildly outspent on political ads in swing-state Ohio.

Kenneth Rapoza

SOURCE: Data collected by Irene Florez on a grant provided by The Media Consortium. Ads ran between August 3 and the October 15. Data is for ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX networks in Cleveland, Ohio only. Data includes spending and ad volume for presidential races (chart at top) and for all presidential and congressional races at the state and federal levels (chart at bottom).

Everyone loves to hate the Super PACs, those well-heeled sources of political influence trying to get voters to see things their way. With the election just a day away, here is how the Supers (along with the legally murky 501c(4)s) are duking it out in Cleveland, the second biggest city in battleground state Ohio.

On the left side of the ring, it’s the American Federation of State County Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

The union has placed 1,216 ads on four Cleveland television stations – WEWS (ABC), WJW (FOX), WKYC (NBC) and WOIO (CBS) – between Aug. 3 and Oct. 15, and spent approximately $1.7 million over that period to influence Cleveland to vote Obama.

On the right side of the ring we have not one, not two, but four PACs, all hailing from Virginia. They include the pro-pharma 60-Plus Association, Karl Rove’s American Crossroads GPS, Americans for Job Security and the Koch brothers’ group Americans for Prosperity. In this four-against-one fight, the pro-Romney Supers have placed 2,653 ads between the same time period and spent approximately $5.4 million.

With this face-off in mind, it’s easy to see why right-wing pundits and the organizations they support want to destroy unions like AFSCME. Without them, in the money race that is American politics, one party would lose its only bankroller.

If Super PACs were divided evenly between the two major parties, they might not be so worrisome for the future of public opinion. But as it stands, Cleveland shows that the current fight is stacked one way.

This reporting is supported by The Media Consortium.

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A longtime reporter and foreign correspondent for Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal, Kenneth Rapoza is an In These Times columnist who writes about the news business. His work has also appeared in The American Prospect, The Nation and at Salon​.com. He can be reached at ken@​inthesetimes.​com.
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