Election 101: Five basics about 'super PACs' and 2012 campaign money

The 'super PAC' promises to shake up the 2012 election. This new fundraising heavyweight which Stephen Colbert famously brought attention to with his own Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow heralds a new era of 'superspending' in politics.

3. What do super PACs aim to do? How might that influence the 2012 vote?

First, raise money. Lots of it.

"The spending is expected to be staggering," says Beckel, adding that many super PACs have already stated their intention to raise tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars. They will likely "serve as [a candidate's] cavalry, [allowing him or her] to use a loud and big megaphone to get additional messages out," he says.

Super PACs are primarily used to buy ads on television, radio, the Web, billboards, etc. So expect more political ads and more attack ads, and expect to hear the most from the candidate – and the interests that support him or her – with the deepest pockets.

"Super PACs are another vehicle for the wealthiest of interests to have their voice heard in the political conversation," says Beckel. "They will be force-multipliers for candidates, helping them get their message out to voters and increase their name recognition."

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