Yesterday’s Florida primary results are in and it’s Mitt Romney by a large margin. Despite the loss, the Gingrich campaign vowed not the throw in the towel. They’ll keep campaigning until Super Tuesday in March, and possibly right up until the Republican convention in late August. Romney had a significant lead in the polls leading up to the vote, and though Gingrich lost this round, the biggest losers in the race may just be the people in Florida.
Both campaigns went negative and stayed there. According to a company that analyzes media fully 92% of the ads shown in the state were negative. Media and political experts alike are saying that the number of ad buys and the negative tone in Florida was unprecedented. Romney’s ads accused Gingrich of being a Washington insider who sat idly by while mortgage lender Freddie Mac destroyed the Floridian economy. And a Gingrich robocall asks why Romney refused to allow Holocaust survivors kosher meals.
Most of the ad buys in the state were paid for by super PACs (political action committees). Restore our Future, the super PAC that supports Romney, spent more than $15 million in Florida, while Winning our Future, the Gingrich super PAC, spent a comparatively measly $3 million. To put that into perspective, according to a report from the Brookings Institution, during the 2008 election Mitt Romney spent $32 million on ad buys throughout the entire primary season. All that money had everyone taking a second look at super PACs, and today we’re getting more insight into the candidates’ major donors. Last night at midnight was the deadline for super PACs to release fundraising and spending details to the Federal Election Commission.
So, who are the major funders behind the campaigns and what does that money buy them? How much impact did negative ads have on the Florida primary? And what’s next for the frontrunners? Next stop: Nevada!
Peter Cook, Chief Washington correspondent, Bloomberg TV
Peter Overby, NPR’s correspondent covering campaign finance and lobbying
Tom Hollihan, Professor of Communications, Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism, University of Southern California; Author of "Uncivil Wars: Political Campaigns in a Media Age, Arguments and Arguing"