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Most Expensive Presidential Campaign Ended In Sprint To Spend

Competing yard signs near Evans City, Pa., four days before the election. The campaigns of President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney each raised more than $1 billion during the race.
Keith Srakocic
Competing yard signs near Evans City, Pa., four days before the election. The campaigns of President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney each raised more than $1 billion during the race.

A campaign marked by money, fundraisers (including the infamous one that produced Mitt Romney's "47 percent" moment) and superPACs finished with spending sprees across the board.

The Washington Post noted "manic activity" in the final days of the presidential race, and sums up the numbers:

"In the end, President Obama had slightly more than $1.1 billion spent on him by his campaign, the Democratic National Committee and the top super PAC devoted to his reelection, Priorities USA Action.

"Mitt Romney, meanwhile, had right between $1 billion and $1.1 billion spent on him by his campaign, the Republican National Committee and his super PAC, Restore Our Future."

It was, not surprisingly, the most expensive presidential race in history and the first to top $2 billion, according to final reports filed to the Federal Election Commission on Thursday.

The impact of all that money in the first post-Citizens United election is less clear, with an outcome that included a re-elected president, continued Democratic control of the Senate and continued Republican control of the House.

But there's little question it affected how Americans experienced the presidential race, especially in those swing states pummeled by what that money bought, and where some $900 million was spent on largely nonstop TV ads, according to Kantar Media's CMAG data and The Washington Post.

NPR's Peter Overby, who covers campaign finance and lobbying, notes that Romney's superPAC Restore Our Future, awash in cash, spent more than $45 million in the final days of the race, with $10 million of that coming from Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam.

And The Associated Press explains:

"A sizable chunk of [superPAC money supporting Romney] flowed in just weeks before Election Day. Because Federal Election Commission rules don't require groups to report until late November the money they've raised since mid-October, many top donors escaped scrutiny until after the Nov. 6 voting. The Adelsons' $33 million gift to two pro-Romney super PACs, as well as $3 million from Larry Ellison, head of software giant Oracle Corp., were not divulged until Thursday.

"The pro-Obama Priorities USA Action raked in nearly 20 percent of the money it raised this election during the final weeks of the campaign. Much of that $15 million haul, records show, came from repeat million-dollar donors like Fred Eychaner, the founder of Chicago-based Newsweb Corp., and from the ranks of Renaissance Technologies, whose investors donated $4 million in the campaign's final weeks.

"Those pots of money, in turn, enabled super PACs to dole out millions of dollars on pricey television ads in important swing states, including some where razor-thin ballot margins had been forecast for Election Day."

The Adelsons alone gave more than $30 million to the pro-Romney superPAC during the course of the campaign, Overby reports.

The AP reports that, in all, the Adelsons gave $95 million supporting Romney and other Republican candidates during the election season, "closing in on the gambling magnate's vow to give $100 million to GOP causes."

Despite the losses by Romney and some other candidates he backed, Adelson recently told The Wall Street Journal, that he could give twice as much in the next election. (Forbes says Adelson, 79, has a net worth of $20.5 billion.)

And in campaign spending news unrelated to the presidential race, Bloomberg had this interesting nugget:

"FEC filings also showed the National Republican Senatorial Committee sent $760,000 in the first two days of November to the Missouri Republican Party, which spent almost the same amount on television ads for the Senate bid of Representative Todd Akin. The NRSC chairman, Senator John Cornyn of Texas, had said he was cutting off funds to Akin after the candidate said in August that 'legitimate rape' rarely leads to pregnancy."

On Nov. 6, Akin was trounced by incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill for the Missouri Senate seat.

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Greg Henderson
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