Originally published: January 16, 2012
Last updated: January 16, 2012 - 2:03pm
Anyone who happened to be near a working television in South Carolina over the weekend was exposed to one of the most concentrated and expensive barrages of political advertising that this state has ever experienced.
With the traditional efforts of candidates now multiplied by the presence of the well-financed “super PACs” supporting them, political operatives outbid and outmaneuvered one another in a last-minute race to buy up what time remained on the airwaves between now and the state’s Republican presidential primary on Saturday. None would risk having their messages drowned out by those of their rivals. The arms race at television stations across South Carolina is the most vivid manifestation yet of the influx of outside money into American politics this election cycle. Because of a Supreme Court decision that paved the way for the creation of the super PACs — groups that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money advocating for a candidate as long as they do not coordinate with the campaign — the messaging wars are reaching new levels of intensity. Five Republican presidential candidates are advertising on television here. In addition, seven super PACs have run commercials alongside them.