One of the emerging post-campaign narratives is that all the outside money (more than $1.3 billion) that poured into the 2012 election didn’t buy much in the way of victories. And as we dig through the results in detail (our extensive data visualizations and analysis are below), the story holds up: we can find no statistically observable relationship between the outside spending and the likelihood of victory. Looking closely at the data helps to clarify and explore this emerging narrative in numerous ways. It also helps us to see some other smaller effects of money. It appears that candidate spending may have mattered a bit more than outside spending, especially for Democrats. It also appears that outside spending may have contributed slightly to the vote share, though not to the probability of victory. This post is based on House results, both because looking at the House gives us a larger sample size, and because there’s more of a likelihood that money could make a difference in House races, given the smaller size of House seats (compared to the Senate), the recent redistricting and the fact that we’ve had three House elections in a row with high turnover. (We’ll come back to the Senate soon, we promise) First an overview. As of September 6, two months before the election, the Cook Political Report listed 90 House seats as either likely for one party, lean for one party, or toss-ups. These were the seats where money could make a difference if it were to make one. (Before we proceed, a few caveats: 1. The candidate spending totals are through October 17; and 2. For purposes of the analysis we include outcomes still pending final approval.) Outside spending on these 90 seats was just over a quarter of a billion: $250,656,656, and candidate spending was just short of $300 million: $297,947,7717. In the 25 toss-up races, candidates spent $100,164,189; outside groups spent $140,043,821.Continue reading
As with the presidential race, conservative outside groups who dropped the most money on heated Senate contests didn't get a great return on their investments. But that doesn't mean the new or returning senators that emerged victorious weren't also backed by big money. These groups, dominated by labor, will be asking for something in return for their support.
Virginia: Sen.-elect Tim Kaine
This race drew the attention of the biggest players in the outside spending game, who dropped more than $50 million in ...Continue reading
Within 60 days of an election, every dollar spent by a candidate has the same television advertising buying power as $1.63 from any non-candidate source, according to a new analysis of advertisement contracts in the Las Vegas media market. During this period, FCC regulations mandate that TV stations charge candidates “no more per unit than the station charges its most favorite commercial advertisers” for the same ad time. As it turns out, this preferred status nets candidates a significant discount over super PACs, dark money organizations and party committees. According to this new data—collected through Sunlight’s Political Ad Sleuth—candidates enjoy an average markdown of $364 off their typical $946 price tag for a thirty second spot, which constitutes a 38.5 percent price cut. This helps to explain why, as Ezra Klein has pointed out, ads from Obama and his allies have been more frequent than ads from Romney and his allies. Because more money on the Republican side has been flowing into the election through super PACs and other outside groups, the GOP’s purchasing power is diminished.Continue reading
Less than two weeks before the election, outside spending took another big leap last week, jumping to $180 million since last Friday favoring Republicans nearly two-to-one.Continue reading
Hawaii's first open Senate seat in more than three decades has attracted two high-profile women candidates and lots of outside money.
The race, which guarantees that Hawaii will elect its first woman senator in the state's 53-year history, represents a rematch between Republican Linda Lingle, below left, and the Democratic congresswoman Mazie Hirono, at right. Lingle beat Hirono in a 2002 race for governor. Both women have attracted considerable support from inside and outside their state, as well as from a host of interest groups, which have pumped more than $1 million into the race.
Early on, Lingle ...Continue reading
A new Miami-based super PAC has surfaced with billboards opposing President Barack Obama in south Florida and plans to plant more in at least two other battleground states before Election Day. Backed by mostly Republican, pro-Israel activists, American Principles super PAC has spent about $220,000 so far and plans to spend $500,000 this election.
It's one of a number of pop up super PACs that are emerging just before the November election, barraging voters with advertisements before having to reveal any information about financial backers. American Principles will release its first list of donors by Oct. 20 ...Continue reading
The murky rules around electioneering ads may have gotten slightly less unclear this week, but not thanks to the Federal Election Commission.
A federal judge issued an opinion Thursday that appears to give the green light to a Virginia-based conservative nonprofit based called the Hispanic Leadership Fund to run some controversial ads that seem to be aimed at criticizing President Obama without disclosing the spending (or donors) to the Federal Election Commission.
Judge T.S. Ellis III ruled that some of the five ads that stymied the FEC back in June are "electioneering" -- a term of art for ads that ...Continue reading
Outside spending groups--PACs, super PACs, nonprofits and party committees--have spent a staggering $105 million to influence federal elections over the past nine days. Overall, outside spending in the 2012 election is now just a few million short of $600 million, according to Sunlight’s Follow the Unlimited Money tracker.
The $105 million, disclosed on independent expenditure reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, was spent from Sept. 26 to Oct. 4 and includes an $11 million ad buy by the conservative super PAC American Crossroads opposing President Barack Obama and reimbursements amounting to as little as 31 cents that the ...Continue reading
In September, outside spending crushed all past months on record, at over $200 million, according to Sunlight’s Follow the Unlimited Money tracker, and prior years' independent expenditure filings with the Center for Responsive Politics.
To put the September figure in perspective, the $207 million is more than double what was spent in August. It represents 38 percent of all of the $548 million in independent expenditures in the 2012 election and about two thirds of the total outside spending in the entire 2008 election, according to totals compiled by CRP. That year also featured a presidential race -- the last ...Continue reading
In Ohio, which is playing host to both presidential campaigns today, Democrats appear to be pulling ahead in the money race -- and in the polls -- an analysis by the Sunlight Foundation has found.
With President Obama and his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, barnstorming the state Wednesday, Sunlight decided to take a look at how their campaigns, and other candidates in the critical swing state, are faring. It looks like the Democrats have the advantage so far, when ad spending by outside groups and the candidates’ campaigns are weighed together. Because the Federal Election Commission does not require groups or campaigns ...Continue reading