Election 2012: Big Money Falls Short

Democratic President Barack Obama was re-elected on Tuesday with a projected 303 electoral votes to Republican Gov. Mitt Romney’s 203, with races in Florida and Alaska still too early or too close to call. The President also won by a significant popular vote margin, about 50.3% to 48.5%, although that margin was much closer than in his 2008 victory over Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona. Democrats also reaped significant victories in the Senate, increasing their majority from 53 seats to as much as 55, pending the outcomes of races in North Dakota and Montana. Although Republicans maintained their majority in the House of Representatives, a number of well-known Tea Party Republicans, including Joe Walsh of Illinois and Allen West of Florida, were defeated in their re-election bids.

About $6 billion was spent in the 2012 election cycle, with more than $700 million coming from  conservative super-PACs funded largely by wealthy and corporate donors. One donor alone, Sheldon Adelson, a casino magnate and Israel advocate, spent $70 million dollars in support of 6 Republican candidates, including Gov. Romney, all of whom were defeated.

Election Day 2012 represents a colossal failure of wealthy and corporate donors to significantly influence the races in which they invested so heavily. Although Republican and conservative Super-PACs significantly outspent those supporting Democratic candidates, Democrats made significant gains in the federal government and in state legislatures across the country. The results of the 2012 election demonstrate that despite the strongest efforts of Adelson, the Koch brothers, and other wealthy donors, millions of Americans cast votes based on their own best interests and not on a bombardment of political advertising.

The failure of corporate and wealthy interests to achieve desired results in this election should not be taken as a sign that the influence of Big Money on our government has diminished. Super-PACs and other groups associated with the President have also taken a significant amount of corporate donations, and the Republican majority in the House is likely to continue representing corporate interests over the interests of American voters. Those determined to combat corporate influence in politics should remain vigilant as a number of issues important to moneyed interests, including the Bush tax cuts and entitlement reform, come to the forefront of the national political conversation in the weeks and months ahead.

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