The GOP candidates who made it through the invisible primary (the months before any vote has taken place but contenders campaign like crazy) and lasted through Florida can thank super PACs, the shadowy political action committees that can take unlimited donations from corporations and rich donors. Once the primary ends and the general election showdown begins, get ready for super PAC spending and donations to skyrocket for both parties. After yesterday’s Federal Election Commission filing deadline, we can now attach concrete numbers and faces to the dark money fueling the 2012 election. Here’s the scoop on the super PACs you should keep an eye on for the rest of the race (we'll be updating with more stats throughout the day).
Mitt Romney, who had a resounding victory in last night's Florida primary, also wins the unofficial award for most frightening super PAC. A Federal Election Commission release Tuesday revealed that pro-Romney super PAC "Restoring Our Future" raised over $30 million last year and spent $14 million on campaign ads for the first few crucial primaries. By way of comparison, the super PACs of all the other GOP candidates spent a combined $12 million, and the candidates' campaigns have spent a total of $20.7 million.
President Barack Obama delineated his campaign message in last night's State of the Union address. Positioning himself as a populist alternative to Mitt Romney and the 1 percent, Obama spent the beginning of his speech laying out his economic plan for the year: "We need to change our tax code so that people like me, and an awful lot of Members of Congress, pay our fair share of taxes," he said. He recommended that the Buffett Rule—which would make it so millionaires can't pay less than 30 percent in taxes—be put in place.
Obama gave his 2012 State of the Union address last night, and all the eyes in the media and political world were tuned in. During the address, 766,681 SOTU-centric tweets were fired off, with 548 coming from inside the chamber. Despite the frenzy that takes over news rooms and congressional offices, the rest of the nation was more likely watching TheReal Housewives of Atlanta or Wizards of Waverly Place.
Mitt Romney released his tax returns today, revealing that he made a combined $42.6 million in 2010 and 2011, mostly through capital gains. Because the bulk of his wealth was made through investment, Romney only paid $6.2 million in taxes, which translates into a 13.9 percent tax rate in 2010 and an estimated 15.4 percent rate in 2011. Those rates place him in the same tax bracket as a couple making $70,000 a year.