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Winning Candidates Rode a Wave of Spending by Outside Groups

Nov. 3, 2010

Winning Candidates Rode a Wave of Spending by Outside Groups

Public Citizen Analysis Breaks Down Spending in 74 Races in Which Power Changed Hands
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Outside groups put their money behind the winners in 58 of the 74 races in which power changed hands Tuesday, according to a new Public Citizen analysis.

 In only 14 contests did the loser benefit more from spending by outside groups, said the analysis, which looked only at those races in which a winner had been projected by CNN as of 7:30 a.m. today.

Winning candidates in elections in which power changed hands were aided by average spending of $764,326 to help their cause while losing candidates were aided by average spending of $273,268, a ratio of nearly 2.8 to 1. The analysis deemed outside spending as aiding candidates if it either praised them or criticized their opponents and does not include outside spending for primaries. Spending by party committees and traditional political action committees (PACs) also was not included.

“This election showed the power of front groups using massive, secret contributions from corporations and wealthy individuals,” said David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “We can expect much more of the same in 2012. Our democracy is seriously threatened when a small group of powerful elites wield so much influence over elections.”
 The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission opened the way for corporations to spend unlimited amounts to influence elections. Public Citizen is pushing for a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision, as well as several legislative responses.

 “It will take years to undo the damage from Citizens United, but the Senate can start right away with a simple step that the vast majority of Americans support – requiring better disclosure of election spending,” said Arkush.

 Public Citizen’s election analysis includes charts that break down spending by outside groups for each of the candidates in the 74 races reviewed.

Additional information is available at https://www.citizen.org/our-work/government-reform/stealth-pacs-2010.