2014 was the most expensive midterm election ever. Some $3.67 billion dollars was spent, topping the $3.63 billion dollars shelled out during the 2010 midterms. Nearly a half a billion of that came from outside interest groups.
The Republicans and conservatives spent more than liberals and Democrats and it seems to have paid off at the polls. The "red team," so to speak, spent some $1.75 billion, versus $1.64 billion for "team blue." That’s all according to public filings compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
The most expensive race in terms of what candidates spent was Kentucky where Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell successfully defended his seat. (Note: he will no longer be the Senate Minority Leader in 2015, as the Republicans will no longer be a minority. They now hold 52 seats with some races still undecided.)
If you account for outside spending, North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa slide in ahead of Kentucky. In North Carolina, Democrat Kay Hagan spent $23 million to defeat Thom Tillis (he spent $9 million). Outside groups spent another $82 million.
So just who made up these outside groups? We looked at some of the big names behind the PACs.
This year’s MVP was also a rookie – Tom Steyer. The California billionaire hadn’t donated to a PAC prior to 2013, but in this cycle created his own – NextGen. Steyer poured more than $70 million dollars into this election cycle. That money went largely to green causes – for example, Steyer has pushed hard to stop the Keystone pipeline and donated to races where this was an issue. He didn’t get much for his money.
Another big donor for the blue team was former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. The Republican-turned-Independent donated some $20 million dollars this cycle – largely to Democrats.
The red side, which turned out to be the winning side, had its fair share of heavy hitters as well. Hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer of Elliott Capital Management donated about $9 million, largely to his own PAC, as well as Karl Rove’s American Crossroads. Some other big-name GOP donors toned it down this year. Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, the man behind Las Vegas Sands, donated just $5 million this cycle. Still a lot, but a shockingly small number when you consider he spent some $90 million trying to defeat President Obama in 2012.
As far as corporations, the top public companies not associated with big-name individual donors (i.e. we excluded TD Ameritrade because of the Ricketts family and Las Vegas Sands because of Adelson) the top five corporate donors were Honeywell (HON) at $5 million, Comcast (CMCSA) at $4.5 million, BlueCross/BlueShield with $4.4 million, Northrop Grumman (NOC) with $4.3 million and AT&T (T) coming in with $4.1 million.
Of those, Comcast spent slightly more on donations to Democrats, but just slightly. The rest of the top spenders favored the GOP. Also worth noting: Google (GOOGL) outspent Goldman Sachs (GS) during this election cycle as Silicon Valley boosts is spending not just on K street, but during elections as well.
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