The $7,000,000,000 campaign
February 1st, 2013
10:11 AM ET
1 year ago

The $7,000,000,000 campaign

Washington (CNN) – The 2012 campaign was expensive. Like, twenty-eight Boeing 787s expensive. Or seventy private islands expensive. Or 50 billion polio vaccines expensive.

In total, candidates, parties and outside groups spent $7 billion during the 2012 election cycle, a record breaking – though not surprising - figure for campaign expenditures, according to the Federal Election Commission.

"That's not really unusual. They're all record breaking," FEC chairwoman Ellen Weintraub said during the panel's meeting Thursday.

Seven billion dollars is higher than an estimate offered in October by the Center for Responsive Politics, which predicted $6 billion would be spent on the 2012 contests.

According to the FEC's breakdown, candidates spent $3.2 billion in 2012. That includes all races, including the presidential contest and congressional battles across the country. Party committees, like the RNC and the DNC, spent $2 billion. Outside groups (including super PACs) also spent $2 billion, though that number is still being calculated by the FEC and could rise.

Weintraub said Thursday it could be the first time those outside groups outspent political parties. Of that outside spending, $1.2 billion was spent by traditional PACs, and $950 million by super PACs, which are allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money as long as they don't coordinate with the campaigns.

And the numbers will continue to rise in coming years, according to Weintraub. Aside from the unlimited amounts that super PACs can raise, contributions to campaigns themselves are poised to spike. The FEC increased the limits on contributions to campaigns to $2,600 per election to keep up with inflation. The annual limit for individual contributions to party committees increased to $32,400.

In all, the FEC processed 11 million pages of documents filed during the 2012 calendar year, Weintraub said.

CNN's Robert Yoon contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • FEC
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. Lynda/Minnesota

    "At least the $7 billion were voluntary donations, not force taking of money to be squandered."

    Well, Tom. If our congressionals being bought and paid for by corporate lobbyists doesn't seem to bother you, then I guess there is no sense in arguing that it isn't we the people that our elected officals are representing, but rather it has become the coporations who have all the power over what is or isn't getting passed in Congress.

    No doubt we will soon be disgusing changing our bill of rights from "we the people" to "we the coporations".

    February 1, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  2. SFRich

    This amount of money spent on politics is truly absurd. Winners are the media, advertising, graphics, and printing industries.

    There outta be a law....

    February 1, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    just askin wrote:

    so all the lefties complaining about all the money in politics now didn't send money to obama last year? obama is the one that declined government election funding in 2008 after he said he would take it. and then in 2012 said he wanted to raise a record 1 billion dollars.
    ---------------------
    Since Republicans couldn't match the number of small donors that Democrats could gather, they decided to change rules of the game and threw out campaign donation limits altogether, just so they could "level the playing field" for themselves. The GOP has aligning itself for a flying leap onto the dust bin of history if they keep up with this sort of stuff, and then try to defend it arguments that are so offensive to one's intelligence. They play people for complete uneducated fools.

    February 1, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  4. BeverlyNC

    You can thank our corrupt conservative-dominated Supreme Court for that ridiculous amount of money spent. After all they approved "Citizens United" – a law pushed by the infamous Koch brothers. Now our elections are fully corrupted by money not credibility or candidate qualification or integrity to actually serve the PEOPLE.

    February 1, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
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