Charlie Cray

The midterm elections are days away, but the winners are virtually certain: the corporations and conservative operatives like Karl Rove who have taken advantage of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United  ruling to establish a well-heeled “shadow party” of networked trade associations and G.O.P. front groups.

Outspending Democratic-aligned groups by 7 to 1, these Republican-aligned groups have blitzed the nation’s airwaves with wave after wave of ads. They have outlaid a staggering $300 million plus — five times as much on congressional elections as they did on the 2006 midterms, the October 4 Washington Post reported. And “they are more secretive than ever about where that money is coming from.”

Even without the flood of funds, Republicans were expected to capitalize in this year’s midterm elections on widespread antipathy to congressional incumbents and progressives’ disappointment with Pres. Barack Obama. But the groundswell of independent conservative groups – many with huge war chests for broadcast and cable attack ads – has some predicting a much larger Republican margin of victory.

A poll conducted by SurveyUSA, an independent research firm, found that a majority of voters think they have a right to know who is paying for the explosion of anonymous election ads. But this majority – despite believing that the nameless groups behind the “independent” ads don’t have Americans’ best interest in mind — do not appear to be sufficiently outraged to spur structural reforms during the lame duck session that will follow the election. If Republicans retake the House, as most pollsters predict, other popular reforms such as public funding of elections will have little chance of passage, Thus it is likely that a key role in 2012 will continue to be played by corporate-funded front groups and, if recent charges are true, by foreign corporations and other interests alleged to be funneling campaign funds through the Chamber of Commerce and other groups.

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