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Super PACs became somewhat famous in 2012 for helping and hurting both major candidates and for their ability to run even the most dishonest ads and get away with it. 2016 will be no exception with both sides building their ground and fundraising game even earlier.

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Report from the Washington Post:

The Democrats have established their 2016 war room in a glassy new building in downtown Washington. The Republicans are setting up shop across the Potomac River in the Northern Virginia suburbs.

Long before any candidates announce their presidential bids, the next race for the White House is unofficially underway. Political operatives for two independent groups — American Bridge 21st Century on the left and America Rising on the right — are already tracking potential contenders, aiming to build robust research files that can be used against the opposition.

The organizations are part of a wave of super PACs, advocacy groups and even for-profit corporations that are poised to play their biggest role yet in national politics. They are launching ­opposition-research projects, mobilizing volunteers and even helping to recruit candidates — further eroding the primacy of the official party hierarchies in the process.

“We are going to continue to see the outsourcing of core functions of the DNC and RNC to outside groups,” said election-law attorney Robert Kelner, referring to the Democratic and Republican national committees. “By November 2014, there will be a true shadow political party system in place on both sides of the aisle.”

The “shadow parties,” as Kelner refers to them, walked that very fine line in 2012 of appearing to be in collusion with but never formally acknowledging a connection to the campaigns they supported. By law, Super PACs and campaigns can’t have any communication but that didn’t stop President Obama and Mitt Romney from asking each other to demand that their respective PACs stop running any given ad. To make such a demand might be seen as collusion. What a tangled web of campaign fiance law we live in.

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