The 2012 Election’s Price Tag: $7 Billion

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The final campaign filings are in, and we can now put a price tag on the 2012 elections: $7 billion.

That’s how much candidates, parties, PACs, super-PACs, and politically active nonprofits spent last year to influence races up and down the ballot. As Politico reported, Ellen Weintraub, the chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission, announced the $7 billion figure this week. Candidates spent the bulk of the 2012 total, at $3.2 billion, while parties spent $2 billion and outside groups $2.1 billion.

The FEC’s $7 billion figure is about a billion dollars more than what transparency groups had projected for 2012. It’s the most money ever spent during one election cycle in US history, a cycle in which Barack Obama became the first $1 billion candidate, both Obama and Romney rejected public financing, and outside spending soared to levels never before seen in the post-Watergate era.

Here’s more from Politico on 2012’s $7 billion price tag:

“It’s obviously only an estimate,” Weintraub told Politico. “It’s really hard to come up with ‘the number.'” And Weintraub said future elections could see even more spending.

“It’s a lot of money. Every presidential election is the most expensive ever. Elections don’t get cheaper,” she added. Spending in the first post-Citizens United presidential election exploded as the FEC remained gridlocked on critical issues. Three years after the Supreme Court ruling that changed the campaign finance system, the FEC has yet to change its regulations to address the decision.

The agency also found that despite the proliferation of super PACs, traditional political action committees outspent the new breed. Of the total spending by outside committees, $1.2 billion was spent by traditional PACs and $950 million was spent by super PACs.

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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