Tags: super | pac | election | spending

Value of Outside Spending in 2012 Races Questioned

Thursday, 08 Nov 2012 12:00 PM

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Super PACs and nonprofits spent more than $1 billion in the 2012 election but analysts are concluding much of it resulted in little of the desired effect on the Republican side.

The GOP and its allies hoped the money would turn the tide and defeat President Barack Obama and deliver the Senate.

“In the Senate, Republicans lost ground, after pouring well over $100 million in outside money into seven races that went to Democrats,” The Washington Post notes in an analysis of spending. “In the presidential race, GOP nominee Mitt Romney nearly matched Obama with the help of outside money, yet he lost decisively in the end.

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“Even in the House, which remains comfortably in Republican hands, GOP money groups struck out repeatedly in individual races they targeted, according to the Post analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics. In 24 of the most competitive House contests, Democratic candidates and their allies were outspent in the final months but pulled out victories anyway. That compares with eight competitive races in which Republicans were outspent and won.”

Which is not to say the money didn’t matter. Democrats were certainly aided by the influx of money and the pro-Romney group Restore Our Future helped the former Massachusetts governor secure the GOP nomination.

“I think it’s indisputable that we were incredibly effective and important in the primary,” said Charlie Spies, a co-founder of the group, told the Post.
The nonprofit, nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation, a group that advocates for government openness, took a look at the outside spending and came up with a “Return on Investment” ranking on money spent in the general election based on whether candidates they supported won or whether candidates they opposed lost.

“Turns out some of the smart money wasn't so smart after all when it came to making political bets,” the report found. “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.”

According to the group, American Crossroads, co-founded by Karl Rove, had just a 1.29 return on its investment of over $100 million, supporting no winning candidates and opposing two losing candidates.

The national Democratic and Republican congressional committees both had rankings in the 30s while the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had a ranking of 79 compared to National Republican Senatorial Committee score of 24.

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The Chamber of Commerce had just a 6.9 percent return on its investment of $32 million while the Service Employees International Union PEA-Federal group had an 84 percent return of its $15 million.

However, none compared to the return Planned Parenthood Votes got on its investment. Sunlight concluded that “98.58 percent of $5,086,007 spent in the general election and ended in the desired result.”

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