The Continuing Super PAC Disaster

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 4 2012 10:05 AM

The Continuing Super PAC Disaster

The schadenfreude rolls off the screen in this Julie Bykowicz story. Revolution PAC, ostensibly formed to help out Ron Paul's campaign, spent $1 million of its $1.2 million kitty on payouts to staff and advertisers. The chief of Winning Our Future, the Adelson-backed Super PAC working for Newt Gingrich, made $480,000 for her troubles.

This gets at a controversy that has burned on the right since election day: How did we spend so much money, and lose? RedState.com's Erick Erickson has been filing story after story on the gap, each time blaming the relationships and economic arrangements that enrich consultants. This of a piece with my story from today, about the skinny jeans'd liberal nerds who ran the data and turnout operations that won the election. They could rely on a few data banks to get them started. Not the GOP. They had Voter Gravity, a new and moldable database, but the Super PACs' campaigns didn't make use of that.

See, my rich friends, you think you are in charge. But go ask your Super PAC friends where the data is. Tell them you want the data. More importantly, ask them how they did the layers for the data. Did they layer consumer information on top of voter data or the opposite? Surprisingly, you can get completely different results putting voter data on top of consumer data, instead of adding consumer data to a known, quantifiable pool of voters. The latter is more accurate, saves time, and is what the Obama team did that the GOP largely did not do. It is what the Democrats did with their Catalist program.
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The Super PACs weren't much less sophisticated in 2010, but there was no comparable outrage, because they won. They lost this time. The scouring and schadenfreude will continue for months, likely with some reported, crowdsourced info about the scammiest operations.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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