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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 23, 2010
1:29 PM

CONTACT: Center for Responsive Politics

Dave Levinthal, 202-354-0111

Midterm Elections Will Cost at Least $3.7 Billion, Center for Responsive Politics Estimates

WASHINGTON - February 23 - With Democrats battling to keep control of both chambers of Congress and Republicans eager to make gains, the money race is fast underway for 2010's federal midterm elections.

By the time that every dollar is spent and every check is cashed, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics estimates the cost of the Nov. 2 contests will be more than $3.7 billion.

"With so much on the line, the outpouring of big money into federal campaigns looks likely to continue at a brisk pace," said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. "Additionally, the recent Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission could precipitate millions more in spending by special interest groups looking to advance their own agendas."

This prediction is a conservative estimate that includes spending by U.S. Senate and U.S. House candidates and political parties. It also estimates spending by so-called 527 committees and independent expenditures on advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts by outside political action committees to support and oppose candidates.

It does not include a projection for how much money could come directly from corporations, unions, trade associations or other special interest groups in advertisements stemming from the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision that reversed the ban on independent expenditures by corporations. These groups are now free to spend unlimited sums on such advertisements -- and there is no precedent on which to base an estimate of how much money corporations and organizations will spend through this new political money mechanism.

The Center reached this conclusion based on its analysis of the last four transitions, the data for which is displayed on our website here. Spending on federal elections, CRP found, has typically increased by 31 percent to 35 percent between comparative cycles -- that is, comparing midterm to midterm and presidential cycle to presidential cycle. (Read the complete methodology here.)

Assuming this pattern holds for this cycle, even a 30 percent increase would suggest that more than $3.7 billion would be spent in the 2010 midterm elections.

"This is the earliest that the Center has ever offered an estimate," Krumholz said. "As election observers across the political spectrum work to assess the impact of Citizens United, this prediction offers a solid baseline to compare new spending levels against."

A Center for Responsive Politics review of records filed with the Federal Election Commission show that during 2009, federal candidates spent about $305.5 million and political parties spent about $493 million.

As expected for this point in the 2010 election cycle, independent expenditures by outside groups have been fairly limited so far, the Center has found. The top independent spenders last year included the Service Employees International Union, with $4.6 million in such spending, the National Rifle Association, at about $486,000, and the Club for Growth, at about $478,000.

The Center for Responsive Politics is also offering a new way to track midterm election spending. Web users can add the following OpenSecrets.org widget to monitor the flow of money in real time.

You can add the widget to your website by copying and pasting the code available on our website here.

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