Democrats got obliterated in the 2010 midterms in part because they were out-organized and outspent. Groups like Karl Rove’s American Crossroads barreled right through the holes blown in campaign finance law by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, sucking up unlimited corporate cash and deploying it (as “dark money”) through shadowy side organizations. The same "outside groups" are angling to raise more than $500 million for the 2012 elections.
Democrats are belatedly playing catch-up, as detailed in this useful Mother Jones piece. A gaggle of "seasoned politicos" (the usual suspects) has launched four “super-PACs”: Majority PAC (goal: holding the Senate); House Majority PAC (winning back the House); Priorities USA (reelecting Obama); and American Bridge 21st Century (distributing opposition-research).
This is new territory for Democrats, who for the most part blasted Citizens as nothing less than the end of America. (Obama memorably slammed it in a State of the Union address, with the squirming Justices seated a few feet away.) But, well, you can’t hold on to the past … and the White House has “unofficially given its blessing” to the new effort, enraging campaign finance reformers. As one of the Democratic insider tells Mother Jones, "Ultimately, we're trying to keep pace with the right wing and the resources of the Koch brothers and Karl Rove.”
Source: 'Inside the Democrats' Outside Money Machine' [Mother Jones]