Super PACs are not wearing well with the American public, which just a few years after the independent expenditure committees burst onto the campaign scene in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has decided it wants to see them made illegal, according to a national poll released Tuesday.
The Washington Post/ABC News survey found a supermajority of over two thirds of voters believe Super PACs should be illegal, including some 79 percent of independents who feel that way. But if both major party presidential nominees take advantage of Super PAC help — which is basically guaranteed at this point — it is hard to envision a bill banning the groups getting much floor time in either chamber of Congress in the early months of 2013.
Which represents something of a turnaround from four years ago, when both major party nominees at least attempted to stake out ambitious positions on campaign finance reform. David Axelrod made it it a big part of Barack Obama’s image during his 2007/08 presidential run, rejecting lobbyist money and trumpeting small-donor donations from grassroots supporters. And his opponent in November was celebrated reformer John McCain, author of the 2002 McCain-Feingold legislation that limited the influence of “soft,” or unlimited money on elections.
While his grassroots backers remain, President Obama is unlikely to talk very much about the influence of money in politics this year, especially since the White House’s attempt to make Citizens United a big midterm election issue in 2010 was a dud. Tens of millions of dollars were spent by Super PACs on congressional races that year, and already some $75 million has been spent on the 2012 campaign. Almost half that amount comes from one entity: Restore Our Future, the Super PAC helping Mitt Romney.