This vizualization emphasizes how SuperPACs spend their money to support or oppose candidates.
In general, both Republican leaning and Democratic leaning SuperPACs spend more money on attacking candidates than supporting them.The largest Super PACS on both sides skew their spending heavily toward attacks.
Republican PACs spent more dollars on offense than the Democratic ones. They spend approximately $50 million to challenge candidates, most of this money targeting Obama. However, a portion of this goes to Republican infighting between candidates before Romney wins the primary in 2012.
Democratic PACs also attack, but spend $28 million against Romney.
In contrast with attacking, pro-Romney or pro-Obama expenditures total only about $18 million.
The bursts of SuperPAC spending appears to be timed around key moments of the campaigns.
Let’s look at the Republicans first, starting right before they determine their nominee.
Early in 2012 Romney is attacked from within the party. During this time, the PAC Restore Our Future, created by former Romney staffers, defends and promotes Romney.
When Romney’s opponents drop out in April, Restore Our Future now attacks Obama, as revealed by a wave of large expenditures.
Immediately after Obama makes his famous “you didn’t build that” comment on July 13, all Republican PACs spend large amounts to attack him. At this time, Republicans money is squarely focuses against Obama. They now have spent more attacking him than they did on infighting during the primary.
In June, there is a wave of Democratic spending against Romney. The Priorities USA PAC is particularly active in this regard.
Both parties appear to attack vigorously around the time of their opponents’ conventions. Democratic attacks spike at the end of August, while Republicans attacks spike on September 6th, the day Obama accepts the Democratic nomination.
After August 2nd, Republicans make few pro-Romney expenditures. The rate of pro-Obama expenditures is consistently small.
Before describing the visualization, it is important to note that SuperPAC expenditures can be broken down into four categories of payment.
Expenditures by pro-Obama SuperPACs supporting Obama are in BLUE.
Expenditures by pro-Obama SuperPACs opposing Romney are in GREEN.
Expenditures by pro-Romney SuperPACs supporting Romney are in RED.
Expenditures by pro-Romney SuperPACs opposing Obama are in Yellow.