The swift-boating of John Kerry was only the first wave—election spending by groups unaffiliated with the major political parties nearly tripled between 2000 and 2006, the Wall Street Journal reports, to 19% of the total. And the so-called "527" groups, which don't have to disclose their donors, are ramping up even more for 2008, with ad buys and get-out-the-vote initiatives.
In Iowa voters are being inundated with ads and automated phone calls from these groups: Hillary Clinton, for instance, is being attacked by an environmental group supporting John Edwards, and supported by a pro-choice group. Mike Huckabee's being attacked by an anti-tax group. The rise of these groups tends to polarize the political landscape, the Journal notes, as they tend to be less moderate than the parties.