NOW with Alex Wagner | November 03, 2012
>>> much money will be spent on all the races in the 2012 campaigns, according to a new report from the center for responsive politics , with about half of that dedicated to the top of the ticket battle royale between president obama and mitt romney . the romney campaign and its main allies have raised $1.13 billion this cycle, compared with $1.08 billion for the obama campaign and its top supporters. this morning the obama campaign revealed its strategy in the final days, telling politico, quote, we placed our final advertising buy of the election, the overwhelming focus of which was to double down on florida and virginia. but in the buckeye state , the two campaigns are spending a combined $30 million on television ads this week. according to the wesleyan media project, over one million presidential campaign ads have run in the last five months. that's a lot of presidential campaign ads. which means if you live in denver, las vegas , or orlando, you have either thrown your television set out the window, or are in the process of doing so right at this very minute. please wait in the show is over. the three cities have born the brunt of the onslaught. other hot spots like cleveland, cincinnati, tampa. which reached a new high or a low depending on how you look at it this cycle. of the more than $800 million spent by these groups through mid-october, roughly $1 in $4 was dark money, meaning the groups spending it don't have to disclose their donors. the surge in spending of the supreme court 's citizens united decision has been extraordinary. in this week's issue of "time" magazine, michael sherer writes explicit political ad spending by outside groups in 2012 is on track to double the combined total spent by outside groups in each of the four elections since 2012 . jonathan capehart, that is a lot of money. thrown away? used for good? totally unclear.
>> that's a lot of cheddar.
>> it is a lot of cheddar. another official term.
>> yes, exactly. people are marveling at the fact that president obama 's campaign put out there a long time ago that we're going to raise a billion dollars. people thought wow, we've never seen that before. now we're looking at citizens united that a billion dollars now might be the floor from now on.
>> and those poor people in ohio. you know, i was down in florida, and just commercial after commercial after commercial, you know, romney , then obama , then obama , then romney , nonstop hitting people in the face. i begin to wonder whether -- you know, it's great you can raise all this money and spend all this money. but at some point, the people will rebel against the person who is spending all this money. putting their candidates in their faces and say you know what? enough is enough. i can't go this -- i can't go there with you.
>> there is also the question of how effective it is too. if you've seen an ad 25 times in a week, how much -- you sort of get numb to it at a earn is point. i think that might be true for the presidential races, at least.
>> i think actually where the rubber hits the road is actually not in the spending, but it's in the giving. because what has happened is okay, this is all going to be sort of a wash in all of these negative ads, people turn off their tvs. and after november 6th , when the new congress is elected, when the president is elected, they're going to be favors.
>> that are called in. that's the issue. it's not about the spending, it's about the giving. so now you've got basically about a thousand millionaires and billionaires who have just financed a lot of these campaigns and whose phone call the president and congress people are going to have to take. and that's a really scary thing for our democracy.
>> i think that this is really interesting. in terms of how they're raising money and how they're spending it, the " washington post " reports that nine of every ten pro obama ads has been sponsored by the president's reelection campaign. romney , by contrast, has not had control over most of the tying run in his favor. over half were aired by crossroads and other well funded conservative groups. i wonder how much that's played into this narrative that has been developing around romney not having a central core message to his campaign, or not being as focused perhaps as the president. i don't know.
>> i think there are a lot more coordinated than we like to say. i think they really are controlled. they're kind of conference calls all the time where it's very clear what the sort of republican pro- romney , the same on the democratic side message is going to be. what is different about outside spending versus their own presidential campaign is the outside money can be secret. and that's a serious problem.
>> we don't know who those donors are.
>> in fact, some of these groups constituted themselves just a couple of months ago, waited until right after the deadline for disclosing their donor.
>> and then ran a barrage of ads.
>> it's clearly a very intentional way of funneling the money past the deadline so we wouldn't know until december when the dust cleared who had actually done it.
>> is it worth it? if we're talking about $5 billion in potential tax cuts over the next ten years, $500 million a year, spending a billion dollars this year to get that? that seems like a reasonable investment.
>> right. i think the terrifying concept is one day we may look back on 2012 and oh, they only spent a billion dollars on that? i do want to talk about the substance of these ads. because the notion that these are not partisan or specifically made in service of one candidate's campaign to me is like totally ludicrous, which is really very mellifluous way of putting it. let's look at the crossroads gps ad, not in coordination with the romney campaign at all. let's take a look at it.
>> you cannot help but know that he is caring. he cares about people and about their needs. i think he is going to be able to get us back on track. i really do.
>> crossroads gps is responsible for the content of this advertising.
>> what? please vote mitt romney for president. the question is, eric, you know, the president has sort of made allusions to get reversal on citizenses united that is, the idea that somehow absolutely a romney campaign ad is preposterous. but the question is are we going to be able to change this? is there any hope?
>> well, in some ways i wonder if the reelection of the president will hurt efforts to change it. and people will say see, it didn't prove to be such a big deal . if you look at it, i think it's interesting because the republicans were basically running to a large extent on three ideas. one is that the economy would be so bad that they wouldn't have to have a plan of their own. that didn't prove to be the case. the numbers have been ticking up at exactly the wrong moment for them. the second was a whole philosophy about big government . sandy really hurt them there because that was a big government moment if ever there was one. and the third is they could just outspend the president by an incredible margin. when you look at how close the president is to matching their money, even though he lost wall street by something like five to one, that's remarkable. he basically neutralized one of their main campaign strategies by being able to do that.
>> and you have to wonder how all the lunatic conservatives spending their millions on this are going to feel if their guy doesn't end up winning? let's be honest. that wouldn't seem like the best investment. but what do i know?