With the end of the Democratic convention today, we’ve only just now reached the beginning of the traditional presidential election season, but that hasn’t stopped outside groups from unleashing a torrent of advertising on the political landscape early on in this election cycle. The amount spent by super PACs, political non profit groups and other non-political party entities on the presidential and congressional races, about $306.2 million as of Sept. 5, is already more than such groups spent during the entirety of the last presidential election cycle, about $301.6 million. And such estimates are surely conservative, as Center for Responsive Politics research only accounts for spending released by the Federal Election Commission, which doesn’t track so-called issue ads spent by political non-profit groups outside of 60 days of a general election or 30 days outside of a primary. Such groups are dropping tens of millions of dollars this cycle, hammering the airwaves with under the radar spending.
Traditionally, outside groups reserve the bulk of their spending for the two month period occurring between the party conventions and Election Day. We still may find that the case this cycle. But as OpenSecrets Blog reported late last week, the early growth of outside spending this cycle has indeed been extraordinary. Center for Responsive Politics research reveals that the pace of outside spending in 2012 through early September is nearly triple that of the same pace during the 2008 cycle.