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Wed Nov 7, 2012, 03:52 PM

Saving Wealthy (Republican) Donors From Themselves


American Crossroads and Restore Our Future, the largest pro-G.O.P. super PACS, together spent more than $400 million on federal races. Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, spent an estimated $53 million backing first Newt Gingrich, then Mitt Romney, as well as several Republican Senate and Congressional candidates, nearly all of whom lost. It’s not clear how much Charles and David Koch spent on the election, since it’s not known how much the brothers gave to so-called dark-money groups, but they reportedly pledged $60 million to defeat President Obama.

And what did they get for their munificence? Nothing. Barack Obama is still president. The Democrats still control the Senate. And while the Republicans did retain control of the House, they don’t seem to have increased their majority. (As of this writing, the Democrats netted one seat.)

Conservative groups and conservative individuals bet that it was worthwhile to spend lavishly on G.O.P. candidates to—among other issues—keep tax rates low on the wealthy. Give a few million now, they figured, get it all back in continued tax breaks and laxer regulations. They lost that bet. Let’s assume the Democrats manage to end the Bush cuts for the highest earners. In that case, in the language of tourist t-shirts, the Adelsons spent $53 million, and all they got was a tax hike.

Democratic donors will almost certainly feel happier in their spending decisions. According to The Washington Post, “in 26 of the most competitive House races, Democratic candidates and their allies were outspent in the final months of the race but pulled out a victory anyway. That compares to 11 competitive races where Republicans were outspent and won.”

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