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2012 Election Called the Most Expensive in World History

Wisconsin Rapids Tribune

During a recent news conference at the state Capitol, Lisa Graves, executive director of the Madison-based Center for Media and Democracy, made an astonishing claim.

“This past election, in 2012, was the most expensive election in U.S. history,” Graves said. “In fact, it was the most expensive election in the history of the world.” She later pointed to articles that backed this up, at least in terms of total amount.


The report, “Billion-Dollar Democracy,” was produced by two national nonpartisan groups, Demos and U.S. PIRG Education Foundation, and was released here by the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group, or WISPIRG. Among its findings:

• Total spending in the 2012 presidential and congressional races topped $5.2 billion, not including some outlays that fell outside of federal reporting rules. (Others have put the total at about $6 billion.)

• More than $1 billion came from outside groups — that is, not the candidates or parties. Of this amount, 61 percent was from super PACs and about a third from “dark money” nonprofits.