October 27th, 2010
05:10 PM ET
12 years ago

Cash flows in 2010 cycle

(CNN) - A record four billion dollars will be spent on the midterm elections this year, according to an estimate by the Center for Responsive Politics, a non partisan watchdog group.

That new eye popping figure dwarfs the $2.85 billion spent in the last midterm election in 2006, and the $1.61 billion little more than a decade ago in 1998.

To put $4 billion in context: that's enough to send about 80,000 students to Princeton or Harvard Universities for a year. It could buy every person in America 3 Big Macs with fries at McDonalds.

"The stakes so high this cycle that it's not surprising that there's an intensity that was perhaps reduced or missing in last cycles," said Sheila Krumholz, Executive Director of The Center For Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign money on its website, OpenSecrets.org.

The candidates themselves spend much of the $4 billion, but a considerable amount of the money is coming from political parties and independent groups.

According to the report, outside spending will be $430 million for the 2010 election cycle. That is far more than the $31 million spent in 2002, less than a decade ago.
And despite Democrats complaints about being outspent, when it comes to political parties, Democrats are winning.

This year the Democratic Party has spent $782 million, and the Republican Party has spent $515 million.

Still, outside Republican groups have made up for the gap.

Democratic groups are catching up, but still, for every one dollar liberal organizations are spending on advertising and other communication, conservative organizations double that with two dollars spent.

And while the national Democratic Party committees enjoy a fund-raising advantage over their Republican counterparts, nationwide Republicans candidates are out raising Democrats $1.64 billion to $1.59 billion.

Another fascinating 2010 trend: key industries are moving campaign cash from Democrats, to Republicans.

Take the health care sector: When President Obama took office two thirds of its dollars were going to Democrats. After the Democrats' health care bill passed earlier this year, the industry is now giving 60% to Republicans.

The same goes for money from Wall Street and the energy sector. Just last year both gave mostly to Democrats. Now 67% of Wall Street money goes to Republicans and 74% of campaign cash from the energy sector is filling GOP campaign coffers.

"The Democrats are not favoring their bottom line," said Krumholz.

She also said it's a case of big business hedging its bets.

"I think they've got their finger in the air. I think they're looking at the changing poll numbers and seeing that the Republicans have a clear shot at taking the majority, particularly in the House."

Filed under: 2010 • Democrats • Republicans
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. Ernest

    Good to see the government is "spending wisely" So sickening to see them blow so much money just to promote themselves instead of helping Americans like they are supposed to be doing

    October 27, 2010 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  2. Terry P

    Obscene – only in America.

    October 27, 2010 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  3. Jonesey

    The Democrats are spending as much as they are because they are having to counter the smear tactics of the GOP AND The Tea Party combined. So to the Tea Party and it's "self righteousness" I say go blo y/self. At the same time, it's appalling the amount of money being spent by all three groups (yes, you too Tea Party... you, with your shallow words of fiscal responsibility and crazy fundamentalist Theocratic intent) on campaigning. If you divided 4B among every single person in the country, it would equate to almost $3300 per person. Imagine a family of four? Shameful.

    October 27, 2010 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  4. Larry

    Where's all this money coming from!? I thought the economy was bust. How many jobs could $4B save? Guess the economy is not as bad as the Tea Party Conservative Right Wing NUTS say it is. I guess the Democrats haven't done too bad. The big greedy money hungry corporations don't seem to want to support anyone that is trying to make them pay their fair share and create more jobs with the money they're throwing at the Republicans.

    October 27, 2010 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  5. BertD

    Is this money they (Democrats or Republicans) spent from the Party funds which are donations? If so, we need to quit donating and supporting their lavish parties and take care of ourselves instead! Thats alot of groceries when you combine it!

    October 27, 2010 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  6. Jon

    They should tax campaign funds at 75%, that would leave these idiots $1B to give to local TV stations and video editors, and keep $3 billion to help balance the budget.

    October 27, 2010 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  7. Tam

    That is criminal. And the country is in a recession. People with no jobs, no food, no homes?! Is it worth all that money to malign and lie about your opponent? Shame on all of them.

    October 27, 2010 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  8. zann

    Why doesn't everyone put their money where their mouths are – put all political contributions into a fund to reduce the deficit!

    October 27, 2010 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  9. Lilarose in Bandon, Oregon

    I am praying, and I am an agnostic, that the Republicans take over Congress in both the House and Senate. It will be an eye opener for voters to see if the Repubicans can "reverse" what they think is wrong with this country. It will let us know if "take back our country" is the right mantra. Just be patient and sit back and see what happens the next two years! I have been voting since JFK and I am excited about this. Our country is third on the economic scale behind China and India. PRAY we can overcome this.

    October 27, 2010 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  10. CBR

    The amount of money spent without any checks and balances if outrageous. Who knows where the origins of some of the donations because no one has to go public with a list. We have non-candidates like Sarah Palin crisscorssing the country to support candidates that supposedly have her values. She does not have to tell where the money came from. The same is true of other Republicans and Democrats.

    They are trying to tell us that the sky will fall at any moment. However, if we showed patience and cooperated with and supported folks in our neighborhoods, cities and state we can weather this economic downturn. By blaming Congress we in essence saying we had not part in this whole problem. Well we did because we never forced the President and Congress to tell us how they were paying for the wars. We now know they did it by increasing the debt and not by showing any fiscal responsibility.

    The American people believed they could pay for guns adn butter.

    October 27, 2010 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  11. NoSuchThingAsAnOpinion

    $4b? Wow. The more money, the more potential for bribery and corruption...
    For those interested, I placed 74th in the world on an intelligence test. I write about social and political issues on my site: nosuchthingasanopinion.weebly.com/no-such-thing-as-an-opinion.html

    October 27, 2010 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  12. George of the jungle

    what a waste of money on both sides. But at least the dems diclose theirs while the repos have all these big business donere who don't have to disclose.thats what the mean buy outside repo groups making up the gap. All you rightys can check it out.Big business will rule the government if you let these loony repos win. Vote them out.

    October 27, 2010 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  13. works for me

    I really can't wait for these "elections" to be over. I'm so sick and tired of hearing the nasty rhetoric from both sides instead of how they will try to make changes. Please just shut up!

    October 27, 2010 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  14. sara

    I am all for campaign fund reform for all and term limits. I am not a tea bagger, but I am still for it.

    October 27, 2010 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  15. Steve in the UP

    Well there ya go. 4 Billion spent to slander, lie, anc cheat there way into office, BOTH sides make me sick. They could have put this money to good use, education, economy, jobs, etc. Instead it is used to get into office so the fat cats can sit on there back side and argue about which side is right or wrong and do nothing. That is our Political Government for ya.

    October 27, 2010 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  16. Raz

    Really, a candidate is willing to spend millions of dollars to get into public office so they can serve me and other constituents? True representation for the people, by the people? I think not. Unfortunately it's turning into a battle of ideologies rather than representation of the 'people' and the only 'people' that win are the small minority of those in power and those who helped them get there. Not much different than many of the governments with which we criticize and meddle.

    October 27, 2010 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  17. Kelley in CT

    In our senatorial race, our republican candidate, Linda McMahon (of World Wide Wrestling fame) is purported to have spent over $40 million dollars on her campaign. In a state as small as Connecticut.

    Seriously? When do we start asking potential candidates to do a 50% match-fund for schools, parks, domestic violence intiatives, etc. 40-freeking-million dollars. On campaign signs, unwanted phone calls (a few in my household are registered independants), and land-fill clogging, non-recycleable, mailbox crap.

    Gotta be a better way to spend those funds.

    October 27, 2010 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  18. Buck

    "To put $4 billion in context: that's enough to send about 80,000 students to Princeton or Harvard Universities for a year."

    How is that "in context"? If anything, that is bizarrely abstract.

    October 27, 2010 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  19. Jerry G

    Americans should be proud that they are able to vote for the best person to send to Washington to represent corporate interests.

    October 27, 2010 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  20. BOokaynotperfect

    President Obama opened the floodgates for this by breaking his campaign promise to use federal campaign funds in the general election. He passed on the 'meager' $84 million once he realized he could get unknown contributors to dip into their MasterCards and VISAs for $600+ million - more than 7 times as much. Any hope of holding back campaign costs died when he did that.

    October 27, 2010 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  21. Tim

    We spend about that much on coffee. What's the big deal?

    October 27, 2010 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  22. Mike

    Stop pointing the finger at democrats, both parties are spending absurd amounts of money. Republicans AND Democrats are guilty of irresponsible spending of American money, maybe it is time to vote for someone other than one of them?

    October 27, 2010 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  23. 21k

    campaigning is too big of a business to reign-in. there are a LOT of people who make loads of money all year long in this business sector, from pollsters to talking heads. and since the business model is dependent upon controversy and strife, there is no path back to civility and rational discourse. it's only going to get worse.

    October 27, 2010 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
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