Money Well Spent? The Five Races with the Most PAC Money

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Since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, outside groups have been free to spend as much as they want supporting or opposing a candidate for office. And spend they did. We’ll take a look at the five races that attracted the most outside money this election cycle to see whether the PACs and party committees got the winner they wanted. Spending totals* represent the combination of outside spending supporting the candidate and opposing that candidate’s opponent.

5. Indiana Senate
Rep. Joe Donnelly vs. Richard Mourdock

$12 million vs. $16.5 million = $28.6 million **
Most outside money supported Mourdock, the Republican candidate
Did money = victory? No.

Left: Democrat Joe Donnelly thanks supporters after winning at an election night celebration in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Right: Republican Richard Mourdock pauses as he speaks to supporters in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Democratic U.S. Representative Joe Donnelly beat Republican Richard Mourdock, who, in the GOP primaries, had rallied Tea Party support to defeat centrist incumbent Senator Dick Lugar. In the general election, Mourdock struggled to win over moderates, a problem that grew worse when he said, during the final debate, that pregnancies from rape were “something that God intended to happen.” Mourdock received over $16.5 million from outside supporters, and Donnelly received about $12 million. Majority PAC, a super PAC that aims to defend the Democrats’ majority in the Senate, was the biggest spender, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee PAC came in second. The National Republican Senatorial Committee was third.

*Spending totals are from the Center for Responsive Politics’, current as of Nov. 7.

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  • Aaron Rosier

    something is wrong here… i think,
    so Rmoneys total is $118.5 + $329 = $447 million (but where does the $336 million go?)
    and Obama(tm)’s is $540 + $182 + X = $142 million ??

    could someone clarify this for me? because right now, the numbers look a bit jarbled

  • Anonymous

    directly raised vs super pac.

  • Legacy

    David beat the rich Goliath. One should never forget the strength of the american people.

  • Emlyn Addison

    The Obama and Romney campaigns should donate all of their surplus election funds to hurricane Sandy relief. Do the right thing and enough with all this silliness.

  • Laurel Stuart

    Alan West Republican Incumb. 17 million, Challenger Patrick Murphy 4 million. Winner — Patrick Murphy, Officially as of this a.m.

  • Pat

    The numbers at the top are outside money. The amounts raised and spent directly by the candidate’s campaigns, mentioned in the explanation, are not “outside money” – the point of the article being about the influence of “outside money”, not total spending.

  • Howard Owen

    So perhaps Citizens United isn’t such a disaster after all? I think message matters more than money. Apparently elections aren’t just media driven shouting matches.

  • Sarah Mahoney Matteson

    In these 5 races ALONE 711.6 million dollars was spent purely to get a candidate elected. our elected officials spend this kind of cash to self promote. What if they took that money and invested it in Education? Veterans? Small business?

  • Happycat

    If you believe this than hopefully you voted for the candidate who truly has concern for all of those issue.

  • Phoenixchick

    I don’t know if one can definitively state that the money was a/the factor for the winning candidates. Perhaps they would have won without. All we can say is that it did not help the losing candidate sufficiently. I am glad that the victors above won. Are there any Republican candidates who did win who got outside money? What were the poll numbers for these candidates before the large infusions of cash?

  • Alma Morgan

    I am glad Murdoch is not from our state Ohio. We have a good one in Sherrod Brown.

  • Alma Morgan

    I am glad Sherrod Brown. He is a good man.

  • Alma Morgan

    I am glad he won.

  • Alma Morgan

    Good for Timothy Kaine.

  • Alma Morgan

    Unbelievable. That’s a lot of money to spend to get your own way.

  • Kathryn

    People — get your sling shots. The giant is dumber than we thought!

  • ward riggins

    What Sarah M. Matteson said. How is this ignored by everyone! This is not democracy in action. Why can’t we fix this?