Citizens United and the 2012 Election : how did the presidential campaigns and outside PACs frame the candidates?
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Campaign finance has long been a controversial political subject in the United States and was made more so by the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United. The ruling struck down limits on donations made to and spent by outside groups supporting candidates or causes, including money donated by either corporations or individuals. Perhaps just as importantly, the ruling also allowed some donors to remain anonymous, thereby potentially shielding them from outside criticism. As expected, the change in campaign finance rules led to a surge in political advertising along with the birth of new political advocacy groups known as "super PACs" (political action committees). This study reviewed how that new influx of money was spent during the 2012 campaign for president, and more specifically if candidate and PAC spending differed in the type of negative advertising used (personal attacks vs. issue attacks). If there were significant differences, the success or failure of advertising strategy could affect decisions made in the next presidential election in 2016. This study determined that the amount of negative advertising created far exceeded positive for all sponsors, and perhaps more importantly there was little difference in the type of attack ads produced by the candidates' campaigns and their supporting PACs.