Election 2012: "Outside Spenders' Return on Investment"

Because of the Citizens United decision, spending on the 2012 election by fossil-fuel and anti-environmental-regulation groups was enormous. The actual results of the election seem to suggest that these business lobbies made some disastrously bad investments. The common media narrative that big money makes big business omnipotent (or omniscient) may be due for fact-checking.

"Tuesday's elections produced some big winners -- and some really big losers -- whose names never appeared on any ballot.  After outside groups spent more than $1.3 billion in independent expenditures to influence the outcome of the election, we now get to see just what all that money bought them -- or didn't.

Turns out some of the smart money wasn't so smart after all when it came to making political bets. This year, the pro-business GOP Crossroads fundraising combine and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce weren't as good at picking winners as the labor movement, which appears to be one of the surprise winners of Election Day.

Using Follow the Unlimited Money, Sunlight calculated returns on investment for the outside groups that gave the most during this year's general election campaign. This includes super PACs, non-profit organizations and political party committees. We left out the big committees focused solely on helping presidential contenders -- Restore Our Future, which backed Mitt Romney, and Priorities USA, which supported President Barack Obama -- because their won/loss percentage will be obvious from the election results."

Lindsay Young reports for the Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group November 7, 2012.


"Election Takeaway for Fossil Fuel Industry: Money Can't Buy You Love" (NRDC/Huffington Post)

"The Billion-Dollar Bust?" (Politico)

"The Environment, the Election, Money and the Koch Brothers" (Huffington Post)

"Effect of 'Super PACs' Proved To Be Less Than Expected" (Los Angeles Times)

"Super PACs, Outside Money Influenced, But Didn't Buy The 2012 Election" (Huffington Post)

"Sheldon Adelson's Lousy Election Bets" (Mother Jones)

"Oil Lobby and Koch-Backed Groups Spent $270M on Anti-Obama Ads" (Guardian)

"A lesson of 2012: If you piss off the coal industry, you can win PA/VA/OH anyway." (Tweeted by Slate/MSNBC political reporter @daveweigel November 8, 2012)

"Three Ways Big Oil Spends Its Profits To Defend Oil Subsidies And Defeat Clean Energy" (Think Progress)

"Charts: How Much Have the Kochs Spent on the 2012 Election?" (Mother Jones)

"Prop 37 GMO Labeling Law Defeated By Corporate Dollars And Deception, Proponents Say " (Huffington Post)

Source: Sunlight Foundation, 11/09/2012