How did Super-PAC Money Impact the 2012 Election?

As soon as the Citizens United ruling was handed down, we were told by politicians and pundits alike that campaign spending would skyrocket and change the face of politics as we knew it.

President Obama lamented that the decision would “open the floodgates” of money pouring into the election process which would “allow corporate and special interest takeovers of our elections” and damage our democracy.

We at Politigraphs wanted to take a look at how the landmark campaign finance ruling actually impacted the 2012 election.

The Presidential Race

2012 Presidential Campaign Spending

As it turns out, Citizens Untted doesn’t appear to be the democracy-dooming decision the left predicted.

In the end, the President’s official campaign set campaign spending records and two of his former aides established the Priorities USA super-PAC which deployed Rahm Emanuel as its chief fundraiser.

While Mitt Romney and his super-PAC friends out-raised the President and his supporters in virtually every swing state we examined, if you look at only the money directly controlled by the candidates’ campaigns, the President actually out-raised his challenger in each of these critical states. The President went on to win 9 of 10 “battle ground states” sealing his victory.

Note: In each graphic we focus on the amount of money raised by each candidate. Spending totals are still coming in, but comparing the size of the candidates “war chests” gives us an idea of how much money COULD have been mobilized for their cause.

Top 10 Senate Races

2012 Campaign Funding by Senate Race

When evaluating the 10 most expensive Senate races of 2012 we discovered that Democrats and affiliated super-PACs actually out-spent their Republican opponents in 8 out of the 10 races and won 9 of them. Obviously, comments by GOP candidates Akin and Mourdock factored heavily into their races, and Linda McMahon’s self-funded campaign fell short despite out raising her opponent nearly 4 to 1 but the specter of special interest and corporate funding buying elections failed to materialize.

Top 10 House Races

2012 Campaign Spending: House

The 10 most expensive races in the House of Representatives aren’t quite as clear cut due to anomalies such as John Boehner raising $21 million and spending $19.9 million of it in a race where he ran unopposed, two Democrats battling it out in California and a couple of still undecided races. However, the trend of the candidates who had direct control over the most money going on to win their race held up fairly well with the only exception so far being the double-Democrat race in California.

We should stress that the sample sizes of our study were fairly limited and they wouldn’t live up to the rigors of truly scientific statistical analysis. Still it seems fairly clear that the Citizens United decision did NOT put our nation’s elections up on the auction block and in fact, good old fashioned non-super-PAC candidate spending may be the bigger influence on our democratic process.

Get the Full Infographic

Each of the infographics above are embedable but if you’d like to use the full version combining all the data discussed, we’ve made that embedable as well. Simply copy and paste the code from the box below.

2012 Campaign Fundraising

Money's Influence on the 2012 Election

Conservatives Mistake George Washington for Napoleon

Fox News and other conservatives have once a again shown a reckless disregard for both history and fact checking by claiming that Newsweek’s latest issue portrays President Obama as Napoleon. Looks a bit more like General George Washington’s formal military dress to me. But, I just report, you decide.

Obama Washington

Here’s a clip from the tail end of the Fox News discussion which includes an even less flattering comparison to Obama.

UPDATE: In all fairness I should report that the Huffington Post made the same mistake…

Election 2012 Take-Aways

It’s more productive to act upon polls than to try to explain them away.

Republicans aren’t the only ones with lots of money to throw at elections.

White guys need to learn to play well with others. The playground is getting crowded

Extremist candidates say extreme things. And then they lose.

You can’t redistrict the whole country.

People who warn us we can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results seem to keep doing the same thing.

47% who thought economy was the major issue didn’t believe Republicans were the ones to deal with it

We need a new definition for the word pundit. “An expert” just doesn’t seem appropriate anymore

Paying Up

As a conservative and a man of character, I pay my debts (unlike the country which simply keeps borrowing more and more money).

So, I manned up, and paid off the bet:


Now if Democrats are serious about wanting to work across the aisle and actually get something done over the next 4 years, we’re going to need some genuine bi-partisanship. I think a great symbolic gesture of bi-partisanship would be for Jim to ALSO shave his head.

Unfortunately, so far it seems like Democrats are more interested in gloating over their win than earning any good will with the Republicans they’re going to have to work with… I’d love to be proven wrong though!

Fool Me Once…

Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me

Electoral College Prediction from PolitigraphsJim

Obama 289 – Romney 249

2012 Electoral Prediction

Map created with CNN’s Interactive Electoral Map

In 2012 Your Vote Means Something

Political pundits across the nation have been talking about the incredibly high stakes for 2012 election but none of them had any idea they’d get THIS high:

Full disclosure: The terms of the bet do not require a complete shaving of my head. I can keep a quarter inch or so of ground cover.

That’s right folks, we at Politigraphs have a friendly wager going that will result in one of us shaving.

If (read as: when) Mitt Romney wins, the old man will shave his head including cutting off the ponytail he’s had for decades. Many would argue this should have happened several years ago, but it appears our long national nightmare may soon come to an end.

If the unthinkable should occur and President Obama is re-elected, I’ll be shaving my face and will once again look like an Oatmeal character. Trust me folks, this is NOT a good look for me.

So when you step into the voting booth on November 6th (my birthday by the way), remember what’s at stake for our nation.

The Loser

Ben Shaved

Are You Better Off Now Than You Were Four Years Ago?

Better Off Now Than 4 Years Ago

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A quick look at the graph above would indicate the answer is no. Income is lower and prices are moderately higher. Home prices have fallen and the poverty rate has risen. The odd man out in this scenario is consumer sentiment which has risen sharply compared to four years ago (although still not near the 1996 baseline).

The answer to the disparity between reality and consumer sentiment may be that  consumers are looking at recent trends as opposed to comparing two snapshots in time. Four years ago we were in the midst of a recession whose worst effects were yet to come. Today we are in a very slow economic recovery. Whether the pace of that recovery is enough to reassure voters who aren’t as well off as they were four years ago remains to be seen.

Rose-Colored Glasses and the (Unintended) Consequences of Elections

The 2012 election presents us with a bit of a quandary. Conventional wisdom states that America is a center-right country and has been drifting further right since the Reagan years. In addition unemployment is high, the economy is struggling and the majority of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. 2012 should be a banner year for Republicans and a disaster for the incumbent Democratic president. And yet the polls show Obama beginning to widen his lead over Romney and the odds for Republicans capturing the Senate dwindling.

Republicans – and Democrats – are left wondering how such a thing is possible.

The answer may be the rose-red colored glasses through which the far right views the world.

Every setback is blamed on the liberal media, skewed polling or candidates that didn’t run as “true conservatives.” Every victory is a mandate for the far right’s agenda and a purging of moderate elements within the Republican Party. The latest example is the 2010-midterm elections. The far right’s mantra became, “elections have consequences.” Sometimes, as the Republicans are learning, those consequences are not what they intended.

House seats lost by president's party in first-term, midterm elections

Midterm Elections


As the chart above shows, in a non-rose-colored reality, the results of midterm elections during a president’s first term appear to have no value as a predictor of his likelihood of being reelected. Ignoring history, the far right claimed the 2010 elections as a great repudiation of Obama, the “Liberal Agenda” and even moderate Republicans.

The results are a paralyzed and unloved (10% approval rating) Congress and a string of extreme-right presidential candidates (Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich and Santorum) whose only distinction was their inability to win even within the Republican Party. What they did accomplish was to convince more electable candidates that 2012 wasn’t a good year to be remotely moderate within the Republican Party.

And so the Republicans are left with Mitt Romney whose efforts to find love among a base that refuses to embrace him has alienated many of the moderate voters he needs to be elected. It’s not too late for him “go rogue” and to turn things around but, in the Republican Party of 2012, truly going rogue would mean a sharp turn towards the center and I don’t see that happening.

President Obama Explaining Why He’ll be a One Term President