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Super PAC money no help building campaign organizations

Republican presidential candidate, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich speaks at a campaign stop at the University of West Georgia. Gingrich and Rick Santorum were unable to get on the ballot in Virginia on Super Tuesday.

Jeremy Hobson: Today is Super Tuesday, the biggest day so far in the race for the Republican presidential nomination; ten states will hold primaries or caucuses. But in some of those states, some candidates weren't organized enough to get on the ballot.

As Marketplace's John Dimsdale reports, campaign organization is one thing super PAC spending cannot help with.


John Dimsdale: In Virginia, neither Newt Gingrich nor Rick Santorum could gather the signatures needed to appear on today’s primary ballot. Santorum won’t be on ballots in three of Ohio’s districts, putting nine of Ohio’s 66 delegates automatically out of his reach. Even though the super PACs supporting these two candidates are flush with cash, some campaign tasks are off-limits.

Bradley Smith:  Because super PACs can’t coordinate with the candidate, clearly they can’t go about getting signatures to get a candidate on the ballot or finding delegates. 

Bradley Smith is a former Federal Election Commission chairman, now a professor at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.

Smith: We find the super PACs are pretty good on the media end, but they don’t help you get that ground game of volunteers together that is so important, especially at the primary stage.

It’s a lesson Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney has taken to heart. He’s reaching out for more direct contributions from smaller donors. So far, less than 10 percent of his campaign funds have come from donations of $200 or less.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace. 

About the author

As head of Marketplace’s Washington, D.C. bureau, John Dimsdale provides insightful commentary on the intersection of government and money for the entire Marketplace portfolio.
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