President Donald Trump won’t face re-election for another three-and-a-half years.
No matter. A pair of super PACs have together already burned through $1 million to boost Trump’s 2020 bid, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of federal campaign spending records.
So much spending, so fast, is unprecedented in U.S. election history.
Trump himself is the prime instigator of this outside money onslaught. He filed his re-election paperwork on Jan. 20 — the day of his inauguration — and has since conducted campaign rallies, raised more than $7 million in campaign cash and even aired a campaign TV ad touting his nascent presidency.
With Trump’s candidacy declared, it’s easy for super PACs and certain nonprofit groups empowered by the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to promote the president’s political prospects.
That Election 2020 has already begun is too much for most Americans.
Nearly two-thirds of potential voters say the length of presidential campaigns should be limited, according to a new Center for Public Integrity/Ipsos poll.
Of those who favor limits, the vast majority — four out of five people — say presidential campaigns should last for one year or less, the poll indicates.
Democrats are most likely to want president campaign limitations, although most Republicans and independents want them, too. “Too long” was the most common answer poll respondents gave when asked to briefly describe Election 2016. “Long,” “crazy” and “bad” followed.
Driving Election 2020’s ultra-early spending are Great America PAC and Committee to Defend the President, a pair of “hybrid” super PACs that share the same treasurer, political consultant and election lawyer Dan Backer.
On Monday, the groups officially spent $1 million during Election 2020 on a variety of pro-Trump communications and related items ranging from TV, radio and digital advertisements to robocalls and direct mail to renting the email addresses of prospective supports and donors, FEC records show.
By Tuesday, that spending figure had ballooned to $1.32 million.
“Our supporters demand we defend the president from day one, and that's what we are doing,” said Ted Harvey, a former Colorado state senator and chairman of Committee to Defend the President.
Chris Zubak-Skees and Rachel Wilson contributed to this report.
The Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.