POLITICS

Money and the 2012 elections

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney,Campaign Finance

The presidential nominee who raised the most money won the 2012 election.

Despite stiff odds in their favor, the party that raised the most in Senate races ended up gaining seats in 2012.

So what does liberal Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein mean when he says, in the context of election predictions?:

The simple fact is that if you had followed the election simply be reading stories about money in politics, then those stories — which included a lot of very alarming quotes from people in this room — would’ve led you far astray.

I think Klein is correct. If you followed the media coverage of campaign funding, you might have assumed Republicans were going to thrash Democrats. But Klein concludes from the actual outcome that “it’s hard to look at the 2012 election, with its record fundraising and the flood of super PACs and all the rest of it, and come away really persuaded that money was a decisive player.”

I come to a different conclusion: The media focussed much more attention on Republican money than on Democratic money.

Obama’s campaign outspent Romney’s by more than 50 percent. Throw in the party committee’s and the candidates’ Super PACs, and you get an Obama advantage of $1.03 billion to $836 million — or 24 percent. Count outside groups, and it’s a tiny Obama lead.

The New York Times’ Nate Silver today wrote on Twitter that Democratic Senate candidates had an $80 million edge in individual contributions, outweighing Republicans’ $30 million in outside money.

So, if your prior assumption was Big Money helps determine the winners of Presidential and Senate races, then data from 2012 confirmed that assumption. Of course, as Klein said, media coverage from 2012 cut the other way.

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