How super PACs fared on Super Tuesday


We won't know how much the candidates poured into Super Tuesday races until they file disclosure forms with the Federal Election Commission next month but it's not too soon to take a look at the Super Tuesday scorecard for super PACs, using Sunlight's Super PAC tracker.

What our analysis found: In these races at least, the biggest spenders didn't always bring home winners.

Here's a look at some of the states that saw heavy super PAC spending and how it broke down.


Biggest spender: Restore Our Future (Mitt Romney)

Winner: Mitt Romney

Restore Our Future, was the biggest spender of the super PACs on super Tuesday states, pumping a total of $6.8 million into the campaign. The pro-Romney PAC employed a targeted strategy, targeting just five states. While its cash blitz was not effective in all of them, Romney won in two states where Restore Our Future played: Idaho and, most importantly, Ohio. 

Almost half of the super PAC spending in the Super Tuesday states went to Ohio, a state that will be important in the general election. Restore Our Future spent $3 million there. Santorum, who came in a close second to Romney in Ohio, had $1 million of super PAC support in the state. Even Priorities USA Action, the super PAC backing President Barack Obama, spent $77,000 in the Ohio race.


Biggest spender: Winning Our Future (Newt Gingrich)

Winner: Newt Gingrich

Georgia registered the second-highest super PAC spending levels on Super Tuesday with more than  $2.6 million in expenditures. Despite being slightly out-spent by the Mitt Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, favorite son Gingrich won his home state handily.   The pro-Romney Restore Our Future spent $1.5 million in the Peach State, almost all of it to oppose Gingrich and Santorum. Winning Our Future, the super PAC backing Gingrich, spent $1.1 million to support him with Internet, television. The pro-Gingrich group spent a total of $3.2 million on Super Tuesday states and was the only super PAC to spend in Massachusetts, Virginia, Vermont and Wyoming (Wyoming is not officially a super Tuesday state but caucus voting is underway there). Gingrich and his strategists have a history of effectively using radio as campaign tool, and Winning our Future, which numbers a number of long-time Gingrich aides in the ranks of its senior staff, has spent more than $5.5 million on radio so far.


Biggest spender: Restore Our Future (Romney)

Winner: Rick Santorum

Super PACs spent $2.3 million in Tennessee and more than half that amount — $1.4 million — came from Restore our Future. But the state voted in favor of Rick Santorum, who received just a fraction of that amount of support from the super PAC supporting him. The pro-Santorum Red White and Blue Fund spent $159,800 in Tennessee. 


Biggest spender: Restore Our Future (Romney)

Winner: Santorum

Although the super PAC supporting him was outspent 50-to-1 by the pro-Romney Restore Our Future, Santorum won the Oklahoma primary by six percentage points over his nearest rival, Romney. Restore Our Future spent $722,500 in Oklahoma, compared to $14,500 for the pro-Santorum Red, White and Blue Fund. Gingrich, who got the second-highest amount of super PAC support in Oklahoma — a total of $499,000 from Winning Our Future and Winning Freedom — came in third.


Biggest spender: Red, White and Blue Fund (Santorum)

Winner: Romney

Although he lost in several states — Oklahoma, Ohio, Tennessee — where the super PAC backing him spent big,  Romney managed to triumph in the Alaska Republican caucuses without a nickel of support from Restore our Future.  In Alaska, a state that has, historically, been ignored by campaigns, super PAC spending totaled $34,600, not enough to register on the chart below. Red White and Blue Fund spent $20,000 on phone banks and mail to encourage Alaskans to support Santorum and oppose Romney.  Winning Our Future, the pro-Gingrich super PAC invested $14,000 in radio and Internet advertisement. The former House speaker got the vote of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin but came in third behind Santorum and Ron Paul.

The largest super PAC backing Paul, Endorse Liberty, focuses on online advertising and has catagorized its spending by state. However, the group has spent more that $3.4 million so far. 

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