Super PACs keep candidates in the game despite growing odds
Monday, March 5, 2012
As Republican-supporting Super PACs spend millions to keep their candidates in the presidential primary race, key Republicans are circling the wagons around Mitt Romney in hopes that Super Tuesday victories will create an air of inevitability as polls show the GOP suffering in public opinion polls from a protracted fight.
Super PACs have been central to preventing Romney from running away with the nomination despite a 111-delegate lead above closest rival Rick Santorum. Newt Gingrich has acquired 33 delegates while Ron Paul has 25. Tuesday's contests will award 419 delegates. and 1,144 are needed to win the nomination.
Four primary PACs have picked a winner in the GOP nomination. Romney is backed by Restore Our Future PAC. Gingrich has benefited from air time and advertising paid for with millions given by the Winning Our Future PAC. Santorum has received a windfall from spending by the Red, White and Blue Fund PAC and Paul has the aid of the Endorse Liberty PAC.
According to records from Opensecret.org and calculated by TheStreet.com, the four PACs spent $5.9 million between Feb. 29 and March 4 ahead of the Super Tuesday contests.
The money has paid a big role in keeping the Not Romney candidates afloat, but the surge in cash has taken its toll on both wallets and the candidates' favorability ratings.
According to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll out Monday, 40 percent of adults -- including 23 percent of Republicans surveyed -- say the GOP contest has made them feel less favorable about the party while just 12 percent say they now have a more favorable impression. Forty-seven percent say it has not affected them.
The poll also showed that Romney has been hurt by the ongoing battle. In the Feb. 29-March 3 poll of 800 adults, 28 percent had a favorable rating while 39 percent were unfavorable. That's down from a 31-36 favorable/unfavorable rating taken in January.
At the same time, Romney is rising in Ohio, the critical battleground of Tuesday's vote. A Quinnipiac University poll gave Romney 34 percent of the vote among likely Republican primary participants compared to 31 percent for Santorum, who was leading by 7 points just a week ago.
He credited his upswing in the state on focusing on the most important issues. "I'll focus on getting good jobs and less debt and smaller government. Again, that's what I know. During this campaign there's been discussion about all sorts of issues, but I keep bringing it back to more jobs, less debt and smaller government. That's what my campaign is about. That's why I’m doing well in this state," he told voters in Canton, Ohio, on Monday.
Romney has also won critical endorsements from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, one of the most conservative members of the Senate. On Monday, John Ashcroft, attorney general in the George W. Bush administration and a former Missouri senator, threw his support behind Romney.