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Democrats play catch-up with 'super' cash

Earlier this week, we brought up just how much super-PAC spending is in this election season -- almost four out of every five dollars, total.
George Soros.
George Soros.

Earlier this week, we brought up just how much super-PAC spending is in this election season -- almost four out of every five dollars, total. Now, today, it became apparent that deep-pocketed Democrats are catching up in the money race.

The New York Times reports that billionaire George Soros will be handing off $1 million to the pro-President Obama super-PAC Priorities USA Action. Soros has notably stayed on the sidelines for much of the election, but according to the Times, a longtime political adviser to Soros announced the billionaire’s seven-figure commitment to the president’s re-election efforts, in addition to $500,000 for super-PACs aiding Congressional Democrats.

The move signals a departure from how many liberal donors have addressed qualms with the Supreme Court’s decision on Citizens United. The advent of super-PACs left many liberals to scoff at the law and pursue alternatives in grassroots organizing, by comparison to conservatives who largely exploited it as an anonymous piggy-bank of unfettered cash.

Soros attributed his late donation due to the Supreme Court ruling, but told specific members of the Democracy Alliance in an email that the Romney campaign's threats to the social safety net were worth combating (hat tip to the New York Times’ Nicholas Confessore):

“I fully support the reelection of President Obama,” Mr. Soros said in the email. He had not contributed until now, he wrote, because he opposed the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010, which paved the way for super PACs and unlimited money in politics. But since then, Mr. Soros wrote, he had become “appalled by the Romney campaign which is openly soliciting the money of the rich to starve the state of the money it needs to provide social services.”

Soros’ cash infusion comes after Priorities USA reported that it had for the first time raised more than its Mitt Romney-supporting counterpart Restore Our Future with $10.1 million to $7 million. NBC News’ Michael Isikoff noted a rise contributions from the president’s inner circle of supporters - particularly trial lawyers - who are concerned with the number of federal judge appointments to be decided by the next occupant of the Oval Office.

"October is going to look like Christmas for the Democratic super-PACs," Isikoff told NBC's Chuck Todd yesterday. That may be true, but at the end, how much difference will it all make?

Gavin Aronsen asks whether super-PACs are overhyped in a new piece in Mother Jones. He answers with five reasons why they're not, one of which is that they've kept the Republican nominee's candidacy afloat:

The Obama campaign has raised $150 million more than Romney's. However, the $143 million already spent by outside groups opposing Obama has tilted the money game in Romney's favor. "We helped leave this race a statistical dead heat," Steven Law, president of Karl Rove's American Crossroads super-PAC, told the Wall Street Journal. "Obama has gotten almost nothing for all the money his campaign has invested." Likewise, Gary Bauer, the former GOP presidential candidate who runs the anti-gay marriage super-PAC Campaign for American Values, told the Journal, "If Romney didn't have the help from the outside groups that he's had, this race would be over."

Super-PAC spending or not, is it over, anyway? That will be a question Melissa will tackle in tomorrow's show. Tune in at 10am, on msnbc.