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Outside spenders' return on investment

by

Updated: Dec. 18 

Election Day 2012 produced some big winners -- and some really big losers -- whose names never appeared on any ballot.  After outside groups spent more than $1.3 billion in independent expenditures to influence the outcome of the election, we now get to see just what all that money bought them -- or didn't.

Turns out some of the smart money wasn't so smart after all when it came to making political bets. This year, the pro-business GOP Crossroads fundraising combine and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce weren't as good at picking winners as the labor movement, which appears to be one of the surprise winners of Election Day.

Using Follow the Unlimited Money, Sunlight calculated returns on investment for the outside groups that gave the most during this year's general election campaign. This includes super PACs, non-profit organizations and political party committees. We left out the big committees focused solely on helping presidential contenders -- Restore Our Future, which backed Mitt Romney, and Priorities USA, which supported President Barack Obama -- because their won/loss percentage will be obvious from the election results. The groups listed below all played in more than one contest.

The percentage under each group's name represents their fall batting average: It reflects how much of their money went to support candidates who won and to oppose candidates who lost in the general election campaign. Our calculation does not include money spent on primary contests or special elections. And our data is only as good as the group's reporting to the Federal Election Commission. If you see discrepancies or errors, email us here.

Click on the "full profile" links to see the full list of candidates supported by each group. One other caveat: We have calculated our "ROI" committee by committee: Some groups, such as AFSCME, made donations through more than one committee. The list below is a sampling of the highest-dollar donors. You can find a full chart of every outside spender and their returns on investment here.

Our calculations reflect races that have been called by the Associated Press; we will continue updating this data as more contests become final and amendments are filed.

(CLARIFICATION: One of the updated ROI numbers visible Dec. 17 was off because of a bug in the program we used, leading to double counting of some expenditures that had been itemized in the National Rifle Association of America Political Victory Fund's amended post election report. We did not realize the error because totals reported by the Federal Election Commission reflected the same error. We have corrected the error, and the NRA Political Victory Fund's ROI is correctly calculated at less than one percent.)

View video explaining the data here.

 

 

AMERICAN CROSSROADS

1.29%

Total spent campaign 2012: $104,746,715

  • 1.29% of $103,595,960 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 0 winning candidates; 0.00% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 2 losing candidates; 1.29% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

CROSSROADS GRASSROOTS POLICY STRATEGIES

14.43%

Total spent campaign 2012: $70,586,641

  • 14.43% of $70,586,641 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 0 winning candidates; 0.00% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 7 losing candidates; 14.43% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

NATIONAL REPUBLICAN CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE

31.88%

Total spent campaign 2012: $64,653,292

  • 31.88% of $62,752,315 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 2 winning candidates; 0.39% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 17 losing candidates; 31.50% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE

61.66%

Total spent campaign 2012: $60,681,466

  • 61.66% of $57,928,105 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 3 winning candidates; 0.86% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 38 losing candidates; 60.81% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

DEMOCRATIC SENATORIAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE

79.73%

Total spent campaign 2012: $52,105,196

  • 79.73% of $52,105,196 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 1 winning candidates; 1.75% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 10 losing candidates; 77.97% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

MAJORITY PAC

87.88%

Total spent campaign 2012: $37,498,340

  • 87.88% of $34,380,456 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 6 winning candidates; 6.14% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 10 losing candidates; 81.73% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

US CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

6.90%

Total spent campaign 2012: $32,676,075

  • 6.90% of $31,937,037 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 4 winning candidates; 2.49% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 3 losing candidates; 4.41% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

NATIONAL REPUBLICAN SENATORIAL COMMITTEE

24.05%

Total spent campaign 2012: $31,710,841

  • 24.05% of $31,710,841 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 0 winning candidates; 0.00% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 3 losing candidates; 24.05% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

HOUSE MAJORITY PAC

70.66%

Total spent campaign 2012: $30,447,657

  • 70.66% of $27,428,203 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 5 winning candidates; 0.13% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 35 losing candidates; 70.53% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

AMERICAN FUTURE FUND

5.57%

Total spent campaign 2012: $23,959,072

  • 5.57% of $23,613,532 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 0 winning candidates; 0.00% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 3 losing candidates; 5.57% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

FREEDOMWORKS FOR AMERICA

24.48%

Total spent campaign 2012: $19,669,391

  • 24.48% of $16,837,974 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 23 winning candidates; 20.44% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 11 losing candidates; 4.04% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM

57.35%

Total spent campaign 2012: $15,794,582

  • 57.35% of $15,791,034 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 2 winning candidates; 7.22% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 6 losing candidates; 50.13% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

SEIU COPE (SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION COMMITTEE ON POLITICAL EDUCATION)

77.91%

Total spent campaign 2012: $13,241,402

  • 77.91% of $12,992,509 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 8 winning candidates; 11.26% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 24 losing candidates; 66.65% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

ENDING SPENDING ACTION FUND

15.33%

Total spent campaign 2012: $13,250,796

  • 15.33% of $12,833,776 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 4 winning candidates; 7.82% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 2 losing candidates; 7.51% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

AMERICAN FEDERATION OF STATE COUNTY & MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES P E O P L E

52.96%

Total spent campaign 2012: $12,449,401

  • 52.96% of $12,449,401 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 1 winning candidates; 1.61% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 13 losing candidates; 51.35% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

AMERICAN ACTION NETWORK INC

60.33%

Total spent campaign 2012: $11,785,919

  • 60.33% of $10,638,427 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 6 winning candidates; 0.64% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 6 losing candidates; 59.69% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA POLITICAL VICTORY FUND

0.83%

Total spent campaign 2012: $11,159,493

  • 0.83% of $10,536,106 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 27 winning candidates; 0.44% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 6 losing candidates; 0.39% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS INC

83.00%

Total spent campaign 2012: $10,897,016

  • 83.00% of $9,646,723 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 10 winning candidates; 13.64% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 13 losing candidates; 69.36% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

INDEPENDENCE USA PAC

46.09%

Total spent campaign 2012: $8,230,464

  • 46.09% of $8,230,464 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 2 winning candidates; 36.90% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 2 losing candidates; 9.20% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP FUND

58.05%

Total spent campaign 2012: $9,450,237

  • 58.05% of $7,628,018 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 0 winning candidates; 0.00% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 6 losing candidates; 58.05% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION INSTITUTE FOR LEGISLATIVE ACTION

10.74%

Total spent campaign 2012: $7,448,017

  • 10.74% of $7,419,644 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 27 winning candidates; 10.43% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 2 losing candidates; 0.31% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

NOW OR NEVER PAC

14.30%

Total spent campaign 2012: $7,760,174

  • 14.30% of $7,064,959 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 0 winning candidates; 0.00% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 1 losing candidates; 14.30% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

PATRIOT MAJORITY USA

42.52%

Total spent campaign 2012: $7,509,093

  • 42.52% of $6,323,095 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 3 winning candidates; 11.21% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 5 losing candidates; 31.32% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

WORKERS' VOICE

76.02%

Total spent campaign 2012: $6,340,554

  • 76.02% of $6,194,977 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 18 winning candidates; 41.58% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 16 losing candidates; 34.44% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

WOMEN VOTE!

80.18%

Total spent campaign 2012: $7,750,051

  • 80.18% of $5,987,230 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 5 winning candidates; 7.17% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 11 losing candidates; 73.01% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION PEA-FEDERAL

91.20%

Total spent campaign 2012: $5,306,123

  • 91.20% of $5,306,123 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 14 winning candidates; 68.69% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 7 losing candidates; 22.51% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

CLUB FOR GROWTH ACTION

41.79%

Total spent campaign 2012: $16,584,305

  • 41.79% of $5,163,013 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 4 winning candidates; 14.09% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 2 losing candidates; 27.70% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

Planned Parenthood Action Fund Inc.

98.11%

Total spent campaign 2012: $6,886,468

  • 98.11% of $5,141,216 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 12 winning candidates; 26.65% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 12 losing candidates; 71.46% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

PLANNED PARENTHOOD VOTES

98.76%

Total spent campaign 2012: $5,039,114

  • 98.76% of $5,039,114 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 7 winning candidates; 18.38% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 7 losing candidates; 80.39% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


 

AMERICANS FOR RESPONSIBLE LEADERSHIP

1.96%

Total spent campaign 2012: $5,022,762

  • 1.96% of $5,022,762 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
  • Supported 4 winning candidates; 1.96% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
  • Opposed 0 losing candidates; 0.00% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

See the full profile here.


Downloads Updated December 17

 

download candidate data

download organizational data