As he assesses the electoral landscape, in which Democratic candidates will be pummeled with hundreds of millions of dollars in attack ads from super PACs, Guy Cecil, the man in charge of maintaining a Democratic majority in the Senate, takes solace in a 1970s-era elections law.
Since the passage of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, candidates for office have been allowed to pay the lowest unit rate available for television and radio airtime in the 60 days prior to a general election. The discount doesn't apply to outside groups.
During a normal cycle, this provides only a marginal advantage to any particular campaign. But now that political advertisements are increasingly being outsourced to outside groups with the advent of super PACs, the law could prove far more significant. Eddie Vale, a spokesman for the AFL-CIO's super PAC Workers' Voice, said it played a role, albeit a small one, in convincing his group to devote money to on-the-ground operations rather than television ad campaigns. And for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, there has been a change in strategic mindset.