The Center for Responsible Politics (CRP) recently released a report, projecting how much money will be spent on the 2014 mid-term elections and it looks like it will be more expensive than the 2010 mid-term election as shown on this bar graph:
CRP projects that this cycle will cost at least $3.67 billion, slightly more than the $3.63 billion spent in the 2010 cycle. This excludes funds spent more than 30 days before a primary or 60 days before November 4th by outside groups that don't highly recommend that voters choose one side or another. If this spending were added, CRP estimates that it would top $100 million on top of the $3.67 million projection.
While the amount spent in 2014 is very close to the amount spent in 2010, there is a big difference in the source of the money and how it was spent. Here is a comparison of the differences:
Spending by All Candidates, Parties, Committees and Outside Groups in 2014:
Republicans: $1.75 billion
Democrats: $1.64 billion
Spending by House Candidates:
2010 - $1 billion
2014 - $945.9 million
Spending by Senate Candidates:
2010 - $779.9 million
2014 - $636.2 million
Number of Donations by Individuals that are greater than $200:
1990 - 275, 013
2010 - 817.464
2014 - 666,773
The number of donors in the 2014 cycle will rise by election day but is likely to remain below the level seen in 2010. It's interesting to note that only 0.21 percent of the total population of the United States donates $200 or more to a political cause. The Citizens United decision appears to be having an impact on fundraising with more funds coming from "dark money" sources as individual donors feel increasingly disenfranchised in this new political reality where a donor's identity can be hidden.
Here is a further breakdown of spending by both sides of the political spectrum for the House and Senate, comparing spending levels for both 2010 and 2014 cycles:
House Republicans 2010: $505.4 million
House Democrats 2010: $501.2 million
House Republicans 2014: $523.9 million
House Democrats 2014: $417.4 million
Senate Republicans 2010: $408.9 million
Senate Democrats 2010: $351.2 million
Senate Republicans 2014: $335.7 million
Senate Democrats 2014: $295.5 million
Spending in 2014 by both House and Senate Democrats is taking quite a hit compared to 2010 whereas, spending by House Republicans is expected to rise over 2010 levels.
Here is a bar graph showing the breakdown of total spending by political party:
Outside spending had reached $497 million in late October 2014. Keep in mind that this does not included spending on ads that run in a specific timeframe before a primary and does not include spending on advertising that does not specifically ask for a vote for or against a candidate. The CRP estimates that total outside spending will reach $689.3 million with Republican-leaning spending reaching $329 million and Democratic-leaning spending reaching $314.6 million. Among outside groups that are not required to disclose their donors under the tax code (501(c)(4)), Republicans and their affiliates will spend $111.7 million compared to only $29.7 million for the Democrats and their affiliates.
Let's take a brief look at the donor side of the story. The biggest donor industry is, not surprisingly, once again, the Securities and Investment industry that has donated a total of $169.4 million so far. Much this comes from the cheques written by individuals, destined for the coffers of outside spending groups. Of the total, $100.87 million went to candidates and party committees with the Republicans taking 61.6 percent or $106.1 million of the total, leaving only 384 percent or $65 million for the Democrats. Here is a table showing the top donor industries and interest groups in the 2014 cycle:
Let's close with a summary that shows the totals raised and spent in the most expensive House and Senate races in the 2014 cycle:
The Kentucky Senate race between Mitch McConnell (R) and Alison Grimes (D) is, by a rather wide margin, the most expensive race in this election cycle. As Jon Stewart would say, "Haaayyyuuuppp".
Given that the median family income for a one earner, two person family in the United States was $60,276 in 2014, we get a better perspective on how much money candidates for the House and Senate are willing to spend on a chance to grab at Washington's brass ring, particularly given that total election spending is expected to surpass the incomes of just under 61,000 median American families. While you may not have to be wealthy to enter America's political theatre, at the very least, it helps if you have a great number of wealthy benefactors.