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Political Donors Spent Enough Money Last Election to Rebuild Detroit Twice

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At a time when fewer than 35 of 435 Congressional races are competitive, political spending in midterm elections has never been higher. The projected total for the 2014 elections was $3.67 billion. This includes spending from outside groups, candidates, and political parties — funded by small and big donors alike — according to a breakdown of spending by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Source: Maryland PIRG and Demos
Source: Maryland PIRG and Demos

Ten races alone ended up costing more than $40 million as a result of outside donations and partisan spending. The most expensive race in national history was North Carolina’s Senate contest between Kay Hagan and Tom Tillis, costing $111,000,000.00 in total — an average of $16 per voter. Alaska was the most costly state on a per voter basis, coming out to $120.59 spent per voter.

Outside group spending totaled $557.5 million, with the two largest contributors being the conservative American Crossroads/Crossroads GPS and the liberal Senate Majority PAC. The number of political donors has also dropped since 2010 from 817,464 to 666,773 — only 0.2 percent of the U.S. population. Yet overall spending is still trending upwards.

Compared to the 2010 elections, spending increased by almost $40 million, only a third of which came from small donors (those who gave less than $200), according to a report by the Maryland PIRG and Demos. Interestingly, Democrats relied more heavily on small donors. They raised about $205.3 million from small donors compared to the $150.7 million raised by Republicans.

A total of $30 million was spent by non-affiliated donors — $17 million less than either of the top two partisan PACs.

Joint Fundraising Committees were more active during this midterm election, raising a total of $168.7 million from just 509 organizations. The deficit between the highest funded Democrat (House Senate Victory Fund) and Republican (Boehner for Speaker Cmte) organizations was close to $30 million in favor of Republicans.

Republicans received the most funding from donations larger than the $123,200 individual donor cap. Seven of the top ten largest donors contributed solely to Republican campaigns.

It seems fewer donors are investing more campaign dollars than ever in fewer races. As a result, their impact will only grow as small donors continue to drop out of the fray. Thus, it is reasonable to suspect that average voters, ones who cannot afford thousands of dollars in campaign contributions, will find fewer representatives willing to hear them in Washington, D.C.

Photo Credit: Ken Schulze / shutterstock.com

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104 comments
Carole Rule
Carole Rule

The money would have been much better rebuilding Detroit.

Diane Jarriel Shepard
Diane Jarriel Shepard

Two things that condemn this nation . How much is spent on campaigning and the people we then elect

Steve Crosmer
Steve Crosmer

Especially those who did not vote! Tell them thank you for another four years of hardships!

Steve Crosmer
Steve Crosmer

Corporate big wigs who claim they can't afford to pay their subordinates more wages but have no problem spending huge sums of money on political elections have no room to complain about a federally mandated minimum wage increase.

John Shepherd
John Shepherd

Lukas you are either an Athiest or just a liberal AH! You claim to know someone like me? Bend over and Kiss you Rosie liberal Athiest butt!

James Jim Lucas
James Jim Lucas

The wealthy donors are not interested in helping anyone except themselves.

Ray Ninness
Ray Ninness

Money is Power, always has been that way, and always will be!! Where does your Money Come From?? Moveon.com???

Lukas Dettlinger
Lukas Dettlinger

*yawn* Another crazy bible thumping tea bagger hypocrite.

John Shepherd
John Shepherd

Sandra you are the uneducated one! You need to learn to fact check you dumb response to someone who has all the facts! You are the fool, because you probably voted for all the Democrats including Dictator Obama! God Bless you and your family but stop spreading your venom on my character!

James Sutherland
James Sutherland

And I'll bet the proponderance was donated to the republicans by the richest 1%. To keep the poor(er) confused about their own good.

Esther Moore
Esther Moore

Liberals in our corrupt gov are not the same Democrat party we used to have and appreciate. That party was hijacked by a bunch of race baiting, only work for their party and special interests. We already know how the liberals have lied to everyone about everything, and personal wealth is at the top of their agenda. They love boat loads of money. They just don't want anybody else to have any.

Jeffrey Applin
Jeffrey Applin

Way to rationalize. How do you feel when liberals get big campaign contributions like that?

Thomas Hinson Jr.
Thomas Hinson Jr.

what are you talking about David. Liberals already destroyed it

Gil Asher
Gil Asher

But it will buy the finest congress people and laws that money can buy. The country sure has f*^ked up priorities.

Sandra Mcconnell
Sandra Mcconnell

You are uneducated in your facts , read and educate yourself before you make a fool of yourself.

Robert Heckman
Robert Heckman

'The current U.S. tax code maintains the constant churning of legal bribes for members of Congress. To keep de juris tax scoffers like Verizon, Apple and Bristol-Meyers Squibb returning as clients, special exemptions are written into law for their benefit. Such ad hoc statutes come with expiration dates that give a member of Congress reason enough to call his or her corporate client with an urgent request for support in the effort to renew said tax break.' "We only have ourselves to blame: a voter's manifesto" http://judefolly.com/blog/2014/2/20/we-have-only-ourselves-to-blame-a-voters-manifesto.html

Vic LeBlanc
Vic LeBlanc

we should deport ALL republicans and democrats. the voters too. they're obviously too stupid to realize they're ruining their own country if you think one party will save you from the other, you're the problem. we need a partisan stupid tax so YOU can pay for the CARNAGE you reelected, bush AND obama voters.

Nina Tatlock
Nina Tatlock

Esther, that's a statement that just is not true. I know plenty of artists who would fall into your "liberal" definition who manage excellent programs and work within a (usually tiny) budget. Why did the term "liberal" come to mean something bad or horrendous? I don't think the GOP has any kind of track record of "fiscal responsibility".

Steve Waugh
Steve Waugh

They will spend ANY amount to get the keys to the Treasury to reward their benefactors.

Jean Harty
Jean Harty

Mark, I am sure you have kept track of all the previous President's expenditures on vacations. I would like to see a comparison chart.

David Lovin
David Lovin

Not if the Conservative Republicans can destroy it first.

David Lovin
David Lovin

The political campaign industry will soon be making more money than the movie industry. And it is getting harder to tell the difference.

Mark Dupuy
Mark Dupuy

That's because the people don't care. They don't count. They're too stupid to keep informed about anything outside of the contestants on Dancing With the Stars and American Idol.

Mark Dupuy
Mark Dupuy

Think of all the homeless who could have been feed on the money Moochelle spent on the many vacations the Obama family took.

Darrin Moore
Darrin Moore

You are correct sir over 60 years of strait democrats in every office of power

Darrin Moore
Darrin Moore

Don't worry the privet sector has been fixing up Detroit

John Shepherd
John Shepherd

No not since the Democratic Party used the power of the purse to elect OBAMA and take over both houses of congress by big fate donors with radical ties! Who is in control of our lives today? Obama and his terroristic values and REID and Pelosi who are his two top Generals in charge of his Radical Agenda! We haven't seen the worst of his agenda yet!!

BJ Landen
BJ Landen

Not at all surprised. Citizens United has got to go. There has to be some kind of limitation on campaign spending. Bought elections are not democracy - no matter how it is veiled.

Sam Levi
Sam Levi

They'd rather donate money to keep Detroit down.

Larry Edward Coleman
Larry Edward Coleman

The headline seems to say it all.....someone actually thinks rebuilding Detroit could be a good use of money? It is well worth whatever it costs to keep people who think like that away from the levers of political power.

Jason Durkish
Jason Durkish

Then vote them out and keep voting them out . Untill you get someone who will keep there promises .

Cecelia Henderson
Cecelia Henderson

If the Republicans don't start fighting Obamacare and amnesty, I won't bother voting in 2016. Looks like all they did was make promises they had no intention of keeping.

Steven A Baker
Steven A Baker

Jean I love you, you have remained impartial and approached this subject like a thinking individual. 

Steven A Baker
Steven A Baker

I'm not entirely sure it is correct or right to attribute the destruction of a city to one side or the other.

Steven A Baker
Steven A Baker

The discontent people have with politics is sickening. How would you reform or begin change? Is it right to label the disconnected "don't count" or unrepresented by a government like our own? If  the newly admitted citizens are more connected would it be right to give them more of a voice?


One issue I have had is that require foreigners to take a test to become a citizen yet no standard exists for those with the privilege of being born on our soil. Would it be right to establish such a standard and who determines the paradigm? Would such a paradigm be democratic given everyone's individuality?

Steven A Baker
Steven A Baker

is the amount of vacation time spent by Obama and family different than that of H.W and his?

Steven A Baker
Steven A Baker

John, the spending is cyclical both parties and advocates thereof have gone through very notable and expressible periods of anti-establishment and pro-establishment. Anti-establishment spending is categorically more than that of pro.


You are right to question who or whom is in control but it might just be money.

tanstaafl1
tanstaafl1

You need to get a sense of perspective....I believe that Proctor and Gamble spent more marketing soap etc, than all players spent on the election.

Given the depth of govt intrusion into our lives, I expected more than just soap marketing expenses to try to gain influence over our own lives.

Steven A Baker
Steven A Baker

That is kind of sad but I'm sure you have your reasons.

Steven A Baker
Steven A Baker

The point of the headline is that the amount of money spent could have gone to fund so much more than an election. It could have gone to making all of our lives better or reduce the suffering of those that need it or reduce taxation by even a small amount. I suggest reading the article not just the headline. Works well with books also.

Steven A Baker
Steven A Baker

Obamacare is akin to a Republican counter plan to Clinton's plan for universal healthcare. it is also similar to the plan supported by Obama's last competitor. Amnesty is a different topic.


Either way yes, if you feel that your representatives are not preforming to your expectations which elected them you should demand more of a voice. You might want to get upset that they cared more about your money or money that would elect them than your voice.


PLEASE do not stop voting regardless of whom wins an election a democratic system or a representative system does not exist without participation.

tanstaafl1
tanstaafl1

@Steven A Baker

Spoken live a true regressive who wants to dictate how others live and spend THEIR money.


Compared to selling other stuff, the election marketing expenses were minimal


What we need is less govt, then we will have less need to try to buy influence over our own lives