Government
4:26 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Republican Race for Nomination Kept Close by Super PACs

Former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum's underfunded campaign is posing a challenge to Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney and a Pennsylvania political analyst thinks super PACs are proving to be a big benefit for less-resourced candidates.

Shirley Anne Warshaw, a political science professor at Gettysburg College, said the everyone-gets-a-turn surges of presidential candidates in this year's race can be traced back to these new funding sources.

"It's due to the super PACs — the super PACs that are not coordinated with the candidate, that are being funded by a very, very small group of people," she said.

Super PACs can accept unlimited funding from individuals and corporations, rendering null old election law that required presidential candidates to get their funding from a larger number of people in a wider swath of states.

But Warshaw said the super PACs supporting individual presidential hopefuls make it hard to tell exactly how much widespread support each candidate has.

"A very, very few people are supporting these super PACs that it is not representative of how strong the support is any candidate has from a large group of people," Warsaw said.

By that thought, Rick Santorum's recent triple-win in the early contests in Colorado, Missouri, and Minnesota isn't necessarily representative of the support he has from the masses.

Although super PACs are not allowed to coordinate with candidates, it doesn't really ensure the firewall one would imagine.

"All of these super PACs tend to be run — Romney's is run by a Bain business partner, from Bain capital. These guys know each other well, so they don't really need to talk every day, because they get it," Warsaw said.

The next primary is a little more than a week away in Michigan. Warshaw said there's no telling how it will shake out, but keep an eye on ad buys by the various super PACs supporting the remaining GOP candidates.