“Outside” spending for 2012 election already beats 2010

September 24, 2012


There are still six weeks before Election Day on Nov. 6, but spending by Super PACs and other outside groups has already hit $465 million, more than all of the entire 2010 campaign season, with Republican-aligned groups spending well over twice as much as those backing Democrats.

Democratic-aligned Super PACs have spent $108.4 million this year, and Republican-aligned Super PACs have spent $270.5 million, according to the Sunlight Foundation, which tracks political spending. The total independent expenditures by other Super PACs was $15.6 million.

Spending by outside groups in 2010 totaled $454 million, the group said.

And much of the latest uptick in spending is focused on congressional races, even in the closely contested ” swing” states ultimately expected to determine whether Democratic President Barack Obama is re-elected or his Republican challenger Mitt Romney ousts him from the White House.

Washington, D.C.-based Sunlight attributed 78 percent of 2012’s outside spending to the effect of Citizens United, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that eliminated many restrictions on campaign spending, The ruling lifted limits on corporate and union spending in elections, calling it “free speech” and equating it to any individual’s.

Sunlight said more than $272 million came from Super PACs, which only came into being after the ruling in January 2010.

The group said another $93 million came from corporations, trade associations and non-profits. Because of their tax status, such groups are not required to disclose the sources of their donations to the Federal Election Commission.

Picture credit: An Occupy Wall Street demonstrator holds a sign during a national day of action marking the second anniversary of the “Citizens United” decision. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton.

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