|Published:||Oct 26, 2012 5:54 PM EDT|
|Updated:||Oct 26, 2012 6:52 PM EDT|
FORT MYERS, Fla. - The 2012 Presidential Election is unlike any other in history. It's the most expensive with no limits on donations, and it's the first Presidential Election with Super PACs.
That term has now become a part of our vocabulary, but what are they? And where did they come from?
As we do every Friday, WINK News Call For Action is following the money behind the biggest races.
The ads have been running in Florida for months. Sometimes Super PACs endorse a candidate, like Restore Our Future for Romney, and Priorities USA Action for the President.
Other times, it's an ideology, like Secure America Now, which runs ads featuring Israel's Prime Minister.
Super PACs formed after a Supreme Court decision that essentially said money is speech. Therefore you can spend as much as you want on political campaigns.
It should come as no surprise that a lot of the cash is coming from Florida. According to Maplight.Org, which tracks the money in politics, Super PACs have raised more than $20 million in Florida, one of the highest totals in the country. But Conservatives have dominated the fundraising contest by more than four to one.
"It doesn't mean that the candidate with the most money always wins," warns Peter Bergerson, a professor of Public Affairs at Florida Gulf Coast University.
But it certainly helps. Especially in the last two weeks when the candidates go on a media blitz.
"There are persuadables and there are undecideds they may determine the outcome of the election, particularly here in Florida," Bergerson said.
What's different about Super PACs is they rely on a select few big ticket donors, instead of a vast collection of smaller contributions. For instance, Restore our Future, the Romney Super PAC, has raised more than $4.5 million from just 59 Florida donors. That's an average of more than $76,000.
Meanwhile, Priorities USA Action, has only raised $49,600 from 14 Florida donors. Even still, the average of $3,500 is more than people are legally allowed to donate to the individual campaigns.