New Analysis on Eve of 2012 Elections Shows How Big Money and Secret Spending Distort Democracy

Release Date: 
November 2, 2012

WASHINGTON – A new analysis of pre-election data from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and other sources by U.S. PIRG and Demos shows that outside spending in the first presidential election since Citizens United is living up to its hype: new waves of “outside spending” have been fueled by dark money and unlimited fundraising from a small number of wealthy donors.

READ: Pre-Election Analysis of Federal Election Commission Data

“While the results of next week’s contests are up in the air, one thing is clear: big donors and secret spenders have been drowning out the rest of our voices for months,” said U.S. PIRG Democracy Advocate Blair Bowie.

Outside spending organizations reported $1.11 billion in spending to the FEC through the final reporting deadline in the 2012 cycle. That’s already a 200% increase over total 2008 outside spending.

Unlimited, corporate, and secret money continues to undermine the principle of ‘one person, one vote

Last week, new polling found that 76% of Americans support a requirement that companies publicly disclose their contributions to groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that funnel their money into politics.

U.S. PIRG and Demos are encouraging every eligible American to go to the polls by November 6th to push back on the power of big money. 

“Unlimited, corporate, and secret money continues to undermine the principle of ‘one person, one vote,’” Lioz said.  “It’s more important than ever that Americans use the power of their votes to push back and make their voices heard.”

READ: Pre-Election Analysis of Federal Election Commission Data

VIEW: Charts & Graphs from the Analysis


Lauren Strayer, Demos:, (734) 904-1704

Blair Bowie, USPIRG,, (202) 213-1971 

This is the third release in the PIRG and Demos series of analyses on the role of money in the 2012 elections.  Previous reports are available here and here. Today’s release shows a sharp increase in the amount of secret spending reported to the FEC, as we would expect given the proximity to the election.  The organizations plan to release a short post-election update on November 9 and a comprehensive analysis of election fundraising and spending in January 2013.

***An earlier version of this release contained an error which has now been corrected.  In the third paragraph "200% increase" was originally posted as "400% increase."