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2010 Election Spending Makes It the Most Expensive Midterm Election Ever

By (view all posts by Allegra.Ringo)
at 9:58AM Thursday November 4, 2010
under Newsworthy

Tuesday's election was the most expensive midterm election in history, costing a total of $3.98 billion. Although it's difficult to track all of the money that went into the election, here's a breakdown of a few (arguably) interesting ways that money was spent.
Congressional Campaign Committee Spending

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spending totaled $64,244,600 for independent campaigning, while the spending of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee was a mere $44,525,486. Most of this money was spent on broadcast advertising (TV and radio ads).

Campaign Contributions by Outside Groups

This year, a Supreme Court ruling had a significant impact on our campaign finance laws. As of January 2010, the government may not ban any campaign contributions by corporations. The decision overruled two important precedents: Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990), and McConnell vs. Federal Election Commission (2003). The former upheld restrictions on corporations' spending on political candidates. The latter upheld the constitutionality of the McCain-Feingold Act, which regulates political campaign spending.

Additionally, no disclosure laws were changed after this ruling. Under current law, many contributing organizations are not required to disclose their identity.

What does all of this mean for you and me, Joe and Jane Citizen? It means that large organizations, such as corporations and unions, may spend an unrestricted amount of money on political campaigns. This year, a record $193 million was contributed by outside groups: $119.2 million supporting Republicans, and $74 million supporting Democrats.

Meg Whitman

California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman spent over $140 million of her own money to finance her campaign, a new record in individual spending. Here's a breakdown of how that money was spent. The list includes over $1 million spent on fund raising, over $11 million spent on campaign consultants, and most enormously, $106.9 million spent on broadcast advertising. Whitman ultimately lost the race to former California Attorney General and former Governor Jerry Brown. Here, Whitman is pictured crying after her concession to Brown Crying all the way from the bank. Or whatever the opposite of the "all the way to the bank" expression would be.

You can visit the Federal Election Commission website and the Sunlight Foundation site for more information about election spending and campaign finance laws.