Financing the 2012 Election

Financing the 2012 Election

David B. Magleby editor
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Financing the 2012 Election
    Book Description:

    The amount of money flowing through U.S. politics continues to astound. "While not all expenditures are reported," writes David Magleby, "our best estimate is that at least $8 billion was spent in the 2012 federal elections." In this essential volume, the latest in a quadrennial series dating back to 1960, Magleby and his colleagues reveal where all this the money came from, where it went, what were the results-and why it matters.

    Anthony Corrado examines the most important changes and legal challenges to the law and regulation of campaign finance leading up to the 2012 election. John Green, Michael Koehler, and Ian Schwarber discuss the dynamics and funding of the Republicans' presidential nomination contest as well as the Obama campaign's activity-including the role his Priorities USA "Super PAC" played in negatively defining Romney.

    Candice Nelson examines in considerable detail how each side raised and spent its funds and the implications of their different approaches. Paul Herrnson, Kelly Patterson, and Stephanie Perry Curtis explore the financing of congressional elections. Diana Dwyre and Robin Kolodny examine the ways political parties raised and spent money through their national committees, including congressional campaign committees.

    Jay Goodliffe and Magleby examine how interest groups raised and spent money-closely examining the effect of the new Super PACs. How did these organizations raise more than $828 million, and how did they allot the $609 million they reported spending, and to what effect? Thomas Mann concludes with a summary of lessons recently learned regarding the financing of federal elections. What changes should be made to the system, and what institutional steps would they require?

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-2562-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
    David B. Magleby
  4. ONE The 2012 Election as a Team Sport
    (pp. 1-45)

    Continuing a trend, the 2012 federal election saw more money raised and spent than any other election in U.S. history. Although not all expenditures are reported, our best estimate is that at least $8 billion was spent in the 2012 federal elections. This estimate includes what we know from candidate, party committee, and interest group disclosure reports to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and interviews we conducted with several interest groups active in 2011 and 2012.¹ The $8 billion spending estimate for federal elections constitutes a more than $1.6 billion increase in inflation-adjusted dollars over...

  5. TWO The Regulatory Environment of the 2012 Election
    (pp. 46-76)

    The financing of the 2012 election was like no other in the modern regulatory era, which began with the adoption of the 1972 Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) after the Watergate scandal. Although much of the financial activity followed the patterns established in recent elections or mirrored the tactics adopted in prior campaigns, significant differences distinguished the 2012 election cycle from other recent presidential election cycles. These differences reflected the more permissive regulatory environment that emerged as a result of the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision inCitizens Unitedv.Federal Election Commissionand subsequent legal and regulatory decisions.¹

    Between the...

  6. THREE Financing the 2012 Presidential Nomination Campaigns
    (pp. 77-122)

    Although the 2012 election set new federal campaign finance records (see chapter 1), spending for the presidential nominations was less than it had been in 2008. The principal reason for this decline was the uncontested Democratic nomination. However, President Obama spent markedly more in real terms than President George W. Bush did during his uncontested nomination in 2004 ($441 million for Obama and $311 million for Bush, in 2012 dollars). Republican candidate spending in 2012 was also down from 2008 in real terms, although the eventual 2012 GOP nominee, Mitt Romney, spent $47 million more than his 2008 counterpart, John...

  7. FOUR Financing the 2012 Presidential General Election
    (pp. 123-142)

    Although overall spending by the Republican and Democratic candidates and by the parties and groups supporting them in the 2012 presidential election was relatively even on both sides, that was not the case during the general election. The Obama campaign outraised the Romney campaign by almost $100 million dollars during this period.¹ Spending by the Republican Party and outside groups helped the Romney campaign offset some of the Obama fundraising advantage, but the Obama campaign had direct control over more money. In Romney’s case he was more dependent on his Super PAC and other allied groups, meaning he had less...

  8. FIVE Financing the 2012 Congressional Elections
    (pp. 143-174)

    Congressional elections naturally take a back seat to the presidential election, and 2012 was no exception. The news media lavish attention on presidential candidates and their campaigns. Voters are inundated with coverage of the candidates’ strategies, standing in the polls, fundraising, and efforts to capture support in battleground states. Congressional elections, by contrast, are mostly local affairs that rarely make national headlines and often receive only minimal coverage in the local news. Occasionally a bitter or competitive congressional campaign captures the attention of the broader public, but these occurrences are the exception rather than the rule.

    However, commentators and the...

  9. SIX Party Money in the 2012 Elections
    (pp. 175-214)

    Although many commentators predicted that political parties in America would be weakened by the passage of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), American parties proved their ability to adapt to changing legal, technical, economic, and political circumstances. Despite receiving minimal press, political parties continued to play a pivotal role in the financing and conduct of the 2012 elections. Parties received little attention in part because of the media obsession with Super PACs—their creation and their activities in the 2012 elections. Owing to a fundamental misunderstanding of the termcorporationand the avenues already available to corporations to...

  10. SEVEN Interest Groups
    (pp. 215-261)

    When it comes to raising and spending money in elections, there are three main players: candidates, political parties, and interest groups. However, as discussed in earlier chapters, there is some crossover among these three groups; for example, interest groups play a crucial role in helping candidates and party committees fund their activities. Interest groups as a category include business and labor organizations, trade associations, ideologically oriented groups, single-issue groups, and even individuals who want to participate beyond conventional candidate and party committee contributions. Interest groups operate separately from candidates and parties but also are major underwriters of candidates and parties...

  11. EIGHT Lessons for Reformers
    (pp. 262-274)

    This is the fourth opportunity I have had to write the final chapter of the quadrennial series of studies by David Magleby and his colleagues on financing U.S. elections. These volumes extended the work of Herbert Alexander, who launched the series with an analysis of campaign finance in the 1960 presidential election¹ and carried it forward for over three decades. My charge forFinancing the 2000 Election,and for each subsequent volume, was to reflect on what campaign fundraising and spending patterns reveal about the effectiveness of the regulatory regime and what lessons might be drawn for those seeking changes...

  12. Appendix. List of Interviews
    (pp. 275-278)
  13. Contributors
    (pp. 279-280)
  14. Index
    (pp. 281-292)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 293-293)