Super PACs made their debut in the 2012 presidential election, but 2016 will be the year they get to show off their strength.
The Super PACs representing this year's batch of presidential hopefuls have already raised at least $240 million, and spent about $10 million on television commercials, mailing campaigns and other forms of outreach, according to the latest round of filings submitted to the Federal Election Commission by Friday morning.
That's far up from the last presidential election, when PACs had only spent about $330,000 at this point in the year. The fact that there were no Democratic primary challengers in 2012 didn't make much of a difference–most of the spending then and now came from Republican PACs.
Republican groups account for 93 percent of Super PAC funds raised so far this year, and nearly all independent expenditures. For the most part, all that money is going to make Republican candidates look better than their peers, but some has also been spent on preemptive campaigns against Hillary Clinton.
"I imagine that when the field feels very volatile, that's the time you would want to spend," said John Wonderlich, policy director at the Sunlight Foundation. "In the Republican field, the numbers are moving a lot."