0820 romney
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks as Republican vice presidential candidate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan listens during a campaign stop at Saint Anselm College on August 20, 2012 in Manchester, N.H. - 

Jeff Horwich: Tallies from the first two weeks of August show the super PACs and outside groups backing Mitt Romney are vastly out-spending the president's main political action committee. The two Republican groups doing the bulk of the spending are Romney's own super PAC and an outside group linked to the Koch Brothers. Together, those two outspent Obama's Priorities USA Action super PAC by 8 to 1 so far this month. That extreme disparity is sure to be troubling to many Democrats.

Dave Levinthal tracks political spending as a reporter for Politico. He's also the former editor of OpenSecrets.org. Good to talk with you.

Dave Levinthal: My pleasure, good to be with you.

Horwich: Give me the figures -- how big a gulf are we talking about?

Levinthal: So about $31 million was spent by two main outside groups that are in opposition to President Obama, compared to less than $4 million for the main super PAC that's supporting President Obama. So, what this really illustrates is the fact that when it comes to outside groups, conservative-leaning groups have a significant, demonstrable advantage -- in particular, one super PAC called Restore Our Future, a pro-Romney super PAC that is far and away the leading super PAC among all super PACs in this race.

Horwich: The other interesting thing on the Republican side on the landscape here is this fundraising group associated with the Koch brothers called Americans for Prosperity. Why don't the Democrats have their own sort of Koch brothers-like association raising tons of money and spending it for them?

Levinthal: Well it goes back to really that sense of we don't want to engage in this battle or give money to organizations that would be similar on the left to these groups on the right. Now of course, a lot of Democrats would love to see it, but there just isn't a group that is really matching dollar for dollar -- or anywhere close -- to the money that the right is able to raise.

Horwich: You will find economists -- more than a few -- who say let's just remind people: There is no evidence that spending influences election results. What do you think?

Levinthal: Well there are plenty of examples where spending absolutely does have a demonstrable effect in the outcome of an election. But that's a fair point, and of course it's very important to remember too that Barack Obama is the singular, most successful fundraiser in the history of U.S. politics to date. So a lot of people on the right will say hey, we're just hey, we're just kind of leveling the playing field and playing by the rules that have been given to us. But of course on the left, there's a lot of decrying of the influence of outside money that can have a big outcome, not only on the election, but also on the way the candidates campaign themselves.

Horwich: Politico's Dave Levinthal, great to talk with you, thanks.

Levinthal: Pleasure to talk with you.

Follow Jeff Horwich at @jeffhorwich