Fueled by Billionaires, Political Spending Shatters Records Again
One month after a historic midterm election, donors and politicians remain united in the belief that their money is essential to the economy and to national security.
But this time around, they could see the writing on the wall and decided to spend on a different candidate or, in the case of a small-dollar donor, on a candidate simply by the name of the donor.
“The fact that it’s happening in an election year is what’s telling,” said Charles V. “Chuck” Mooney, a Republican bundler and investor who has hosted an average of 10 fundraisers per year since 1997.
“A lot of people are trying to win,” said one Republican fundraiser, who didn’t wish to be named. “Some things were done that are not in the best interest of the party, but that’s what happens in the electoral world.”
The campaign cycle, in general, is filled with a lot of surprises.
The most notable recent surprise — and one that may continue this year — is the stunning success of the Republican campaign against President Barack Obama that has become a new norm at this point in the cycle.
Republicans have spent nearly $500 million to this point in opposing Obama’s agenda in his first two years in office. They’ve also raised $500 million to date.
This year, the Republican campaign has shown no signs of slowing.
The spending was on both down-to-earth candidates, who have to raise money to pay for campaigns, and high-profile ones, like Mitch McConnell. The Democratic campaigns, meanwhile, have raised just a measly $26 million, with Democratic leaders struggling to generate much enthusiasm outside the activist left.
“Every four years we have this big spending cycle,” said former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, a Republican who ran for vice president in 1996 and was a member of George W. Bush’s cabinet. “This year it happened to come at the end of the campaign.”
“It’s a good thing for the economy and the country, but it’s also a good thing for the Democrats that we’re going to spend another two-thirds to three-quarters of $5 million per candidate,” Hastert said. “They’re going to spend $50