More than two-thirds of the money to super PACs aligned with presidential candidates came from megadonors who each contributed $500,000 or more, demonstrating how a handful of wealthy interests have helped turn the GOP presidential primary into the longest-running nomination fight in a generation. No group relied more heavily on a few super donors than the political committee backing former House speaker Newt Gingrich: 96% of contributions to the pro-Gingrich Winning Our Future came from this elite group, a USA TODAY analysis shows. More than $16 million flowed from a single source: Las Vegas casino titan Sheldon Adelson and his relatives. Restore Our Future, a super PAC aiding former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, relied on nearly 52% of its contributions from corporations or individuals who gave $500,000 or more, the lowest share of super donors among the candidate-aligned super PACs analyzed by USA TODAY.
Super PAC money “has extended the nomination contest,” said Richard Hasen , a campaign-finance expert at the University of California-Irvine. However, he said, the spending may not have changed the outcome predicted by many political observers — that Romney is the GOP’s likely nominee, following his decisive victory Tuesday in Illinois. “The super PAC money does the same thing it does for a candidate who’s independently wealthy,” Hasen said. “It gives the candidate extra chances to make the case to the public. But it doesn’t guarantee success.”