Last year, in perhaps the “most consequential Supreme Court decision in decades,” the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) invalidated a sixty-three year-old ban on corporate and union money directly funding individual candidates in federal elections. The SCOTUS decision sent shockwaves throughout our democracy, with many fearing that it would lead to an overwhelming amount of corporate money flooding out the voices of ordinary people.
Now, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics has put out a comprehensive analysis to assess the flood of campaign money in last year’s election. One of the most shocking results of the analysis finds that the decision appeared to have a sharply partisan and ideological result. The group found that spending by Super PACs and all outside spending strongly tilted towards conservatives, and that spending by undisclosed donors actually was eight times higher for conservatives than liberals, with conservatives spending $119.6 million to liberals’ $15.7 million:
Not only did this money help elect a more conservative Congress, but it also is having a lingering effect on our campaign system. Last week, Democratic strategists announced that they will be forming Priorities USA Action, an Independent Expenditure PAC that will be relying on a strategy of collecting unlimited funds from undiclosed donors similar to the one that conservative groups used in 2010.
What this means is that federal elections in 2012 may include an unprecedented flurry of corporate and secret cash that would drown out the voices of Main Street America in a way never seen before in modern history. Ultimately, the only way to deal with this threat to our democracy is to enact a system of public financing, much like the one enshrined in the Fair Elections Now Act.