The biggest surge of money came into the Romney campaign during the final few frantic weeks, but the Obama fundraising drive kept the campaign spending close. In the murky world of fundraising and contributing, the Democrats may have even surpassed their opposition.
To no one’s surprise, the election also was an extravaganza of spending money donated by ultra-wealthy individuals, collected by various super-PACs and squirreled away by politically oriented nonprofit “social welfare” organizations. Through those organizations, people and groups who do not want to be identified can launder their campaign contributions and underwrite so-called “issue ads.”
That worked fine for the Obama campaign. Not so well for Romney — and not so well for other GOP candidates, since Republican super-PACs that backed the party’s Senate candidates in Virginia, Michigan and Massachusetts lost all three races.
Yet, despite losing the biggest prize, the White House, Romney finance chairman Spencer Zwick declared the election a fundraising victory. “Every dollar we raised,” Zwick told the Associated Press, “was put to use in the effort to elect Mitt Romney,” and the amount spent represented “the most successful in Republican Party history.”
To follow this logic, Romney lost because he got fewer votes, but the GOP won because it raised more money.
Also, following this logic, it is unlikely that a Republican-controlled House of Representatives will be amenable to campaign-finance reform. It’s also not likely that the victorious Democrats will seek to change a campaign-finance system that served them so well.
So, get ready. Unless the Supreme Court changes its mind about limits on campaign contributions, future elections will have more of what we saw in 2012.
And we must ask ourselves: Is what is being bought worth the money?