POLITICS
05/08/2012 06:46 pm ET Updated May 08, 2012

HUFFPOST FUNDRACE -- Soros, Dem Donors Jump Into Super PAC Game

The New York Times reports that George Soros and other big name Democratic Party donors are going to put millions into super PACs, only they don't want to put them into groups running negative ads. NYT: "After months on the sidelines, major liberal donors including the financier George Soros are preparing to inject up to $100 million into independent groups to aid Democrats’ chances this fall. But instead of going head to head with the conservative “super PACs” and outside groups that have flooded the presidential and Congressional campaigns with negative advertising, the donors are focusing on grass-roots organizing, voter registration and Democratic turnout. ... In a move likely to draw in other major donors, Mr. Soros will contribute $1 million each to America Votes, a group that coordinates political activity for left-leaning environmental, abortion rights and civil rights groups, andAmerican Bridge 21st Century, a super PAC that focuses on election-oriented research. The donations will be Mr. Soros’s first major contributions of the 2012 election cycle."

HuffPost's Sam Stein follow-ups the story, including asking why Soros was not giving to the super PAC backing President Barack Obama's reelection: "Explaining the donations, longtime Soros adviser Michael Vachon said they were driven by Soros' belief that Democrats had two comparative advantages over the GOP: organizing acumen and long-term infrastructure. 'Culturally, the left doesn't do Swift Boat,' Vachon said, in reference to the trickster, ultimately effective ad campaign run against Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in the 2004 presidential campaign. 'It's not what we do well. If we did do it well, George W. Bush would not have been re-elected because he was a supremely swift-boat-able candidate. We don't do it well. We do humor well.' While it would be unwise to simply leave the president's super PAC's unfunded, Vachon added, there also needed to be a recognition that progressive money would be drowned out by conservative. Karl Rove's American Crossroads is expected to spend $300 million alone. Mitt Romney's allied super PAC, Restore Our Future, has spent $44 million already. Faced with those figures, Soros concluded a wiser investment strategy was needed."

And some commentary from The Atlantic Wire: "Big liberal donors are meeting in Miami to strategize how to live up to a couple classic liberal cliches -- instead of trying to compete with the conservative Super PACs (and their ads) that helped Republicans retake the House in 2010 and helped Mitt Romney win the primary, they're going to pour their money into wholesome community-focused get-out-the-vote groups. ... In a way, liberals' hesitance is understandable: the idea of paying for college kids to drive grandmas to polls on election day is much more pleasant than the idea of funding millions of dollars worth of ads that make Mitt Romney look like an Ayn Rand-fetishizing woman-hating gay-bashing robber baron. But an important question in this election will be whether Romney is an acceptable alternative to Obama. One really good way to nudge voters toward thinking Romney is not an acceptable alternative is with negative TV ads -- the same way Romney himself disqualified his opponents one by one during the Republican presidential primary."

In the first quarter of 2012, small donor giving to House Republican candidates and the National Republican Congressional Committee dropped while House Democrats saw a boom in grassroots giving. HuffPost reports: "According to the first-quarter campaign reports filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the House Republican candidates raised only 8 percent of their total campaign contributions from donors chipping in less than $200. That's down from 11.5 percent during the first quarter of 2010, which was the first quarter of the previous election year. The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), the House Republicans' electoral arm, is fairing far worse. In the first three months of 2010, the NRCC raised 38 percent of its contributions from small donors, but over the same time-period in 2012, that total has been cut to only 16 percent. ... Meanwhile, the House Democrats are on a roll raising money from small donors. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the NRCC's counterpart, raised 40.7 percent of its total in the first quarter from small donors, up from 34.8 percent over the same period in 2010. Democratic candidates for the House pulled in 10.3 percent from small donors, a slight increase from the 9.5 percent they raised in the first quarter of 2010."

Mitt Romney is raising money at the home of an oil billionaire, reports Politico.

Eliza Newlin Carney reports on the super PACs that are working to get rid of super PACs. For the most part, however, these groups will not raise much money and have no other reason aside from novelty to register as a super PAC themselves.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is distancing himself from a non-profit run by his former aides and bearing the same name as Cantor's book, Young Guns, as it spends money to support Sen. Dick Lugar in his possibly losing reelection campaign against a Tea Party insurgent.

AD WATCH

Help us populate our list of campaign videos. Send any notable TV, radio or web ads that you see to Fundrace. Send your submissions to paulblumenthal@huffingtonpost.com.

Committee: Barack Obama for President
Candidate Opposed: Mitt Romney
Spot: "Mitt Romney Vs. Reality: Auto Recovery Edition"
Market: Unknown.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: Jon Brunner for Senate
Candidate Opposed: Claire McCaskill
Spot: "Numbers"
Market: Missouri.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: Jon Brunner for Senate
Candidate Opposed: Claire McCaskill
Spot: "Numbers (Radio)"
Market: Missouri.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: Scott Brown for Senate
Spot: "Fishermen"
Market: Massachusetts (Radio).
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: Ron Barber for Congress
Candidate Opposed: Jesse Kelly
Spot: "Worry"
Market: Arizona's 8th District.
Buy: Undisclosed.

TRACKING INDEPENDENT SPENDING IN THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE:

These numbers represent spending by independent groups, like super PACs and non-profits, to support or oppose a particular candidate for the presidency in 2012. Fundrace will update this spending daily to help show which candidates are gaining from the proliferation of independent groups in this coming election.

Newt Gingrich (R), $13,017,772 to support, $18,885,161 to oppose.
Rick Santorum (R), $7,548,235 to support, $20,923,379 to oppose.
Mitt Romney (R), $5,361,828 to support, $8,676,753 to oppose.
Rick Perry (R), $4,167,697 to support, $1,404 to oppose.
Ron Paul (R), $3,748,218 to support, $214,158 to oppose.
Jon Huntsman (R), $2,453,204 to support, $0 to oppose.
Barack Obama (D), $298,856 to support, $1,175,151 to oppose. (+$10,000)
Herman Cain (R), $501,717 to support, $954 to oppose.
Gary Johnson (R), $518 to support, $0 to oppose.

RECENT INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES

Conservative Renewal PAC, $50,000 to oppose Tom Leppert for Senate in Texas.
Restore America's Voice, $10,000 to oppose Barack Obama for President.
Inland Empire Taxpayers for Jobs, $21,410 to support Bob Dutton for Congress in California's 31st District.
Progressive Kick Independent Expenditures, $20,275 to support Eric Griego for Congress in New Mexico's 1st District.
Citizens for a Working America, $13,500 to oppose David McIntosh for Congress in Indiana's 5th District.

RECENT POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE REGISTRATIONS

NONE.

Send tips, hints, submissions, rumors to HuffPost Fundrace at paulblumenthal@huffingtonpost.com.

ALSO ON HUFFPOST:

CONVERSATIONS