The 2012 presidential and congressional elections will be the most expensive on record, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics estimates -- though not by much. The Center predicts, based on data from 18 months of fundraising and spending, that the elections will cost $5.8 billion, an increase of 7 percent from the 2008 cost of $5.4 billion. But outside spending, which is soaring while presidential candidate spending declines, is a wild card that makes predictions tricky.
So far overall in the first 18 months of the 2012 cycle, $2.2 billion has been spent, compared with $2.4 billion in 2008.
The presidential race by itself will cost about $2.5 billion, the Center predicts, in funds laid out by the candidates, Democratic and Republican party committees and outside spending groups. The candidates have raised about $608 million, compared with more than $1.1 billion at this point in the 2008 cycle.
As for the outside groups, The Huffington Post reports:
Through July 26, politically involved groups that do not disclose their donors have spent at least $172 million on campaigns that include television, radio and Internet advertising, according to a Huffington Post review of FEC reports, advertising buys, press releases and news stories. Total spending by these groups is likely far greater, since they are required to report only a fraction of their spending to the FEC. Politically involved independent groups that publicly disclose their donors, including super PACs, have spent $174 million so far this election cycle.
"For this cycle, we know almost nothing," said Center for Responsive Politics communications director Viveca Novak, referring to those behind the spending of non-disclosing groups.
Crossroads GPS is the biggest spender, with $85.9 million in spending in announced advertising since the beginning of 2011, according to its press releases.The Campaign Finance Institute reports:
In an election filled with tumultuous campaign finance change, the six major national political party committees so far have been holding their own financially. According to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission on July 20, the two national committees and four congressional committees had raised a combined total of $792 million in the eighteen months between January 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012.
This put the parties well ahead of the previous hard-money record years of 2008 ($625 million at eighteen months) and 2004 ($616 million) (see Table 1), which were the first two presidential elections after parties had to raise all of their money as hard money under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA or McCain-Feingold). In fact it even puts the parties ahead of the combined 18-month hard-and-soft money records of $644 million in 2000 and $720 million in 2002. (Information about 1990-2002 is available in FEC press releases of September 2000 and2002.)
The parties’ hard money success since 2002 has come about because the parties replaced soft money with (a) money from small donors coming into all six committees, (b) money from Members of Congress to the four Hill committees, and (c) money from presidential candidates’ joint fundraising committees coming into the RNC and DNC.