59 days out from the presidential election, outside groups have already spent more on political ads than the total amount they spent during the 2008 election cycle. The Center for Responsive Politics reports that super PACs, non-profits and other outside groups have poured about $306.2 million into this election cycle as of September 5, outpacing the 2008 total of $301.6 million. This massive sum does not even take into account “issue ads” by political non-profits who have spent tens of millions of dollars this cycle. Furthermore, the spending is expected to skyrocket, as these groups traditionally unleash most of their funds in the short period between the conventions and Election Day.
The campaign finance landscape, of course, is very different today than it was four years ago; the 2010 Citizens United ruling gave the green light to corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money, while the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals decided Wednesday that disclosure of these unlimited funds could be banned if the corporations find the regulations too onerous.
The consequences are obvious. Wall Street is poised to reach an all-time high of election spending, with 60 percent of financial sector donations going to Republicans. Conservative super PACs have far outstripped their Democratic counterparts.