Independent Ad Spending to Soar During General Elections

When the Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that corporate entities had the right to contribute to political campaigns, industry experts expected the floodgates to open.  So far, the data reported to the Federal Election Commission shows that independent spending has been more like a trickle than a gusher.

Here’s how the spending activity of $24.7 million has broken out so far:

  • Unions $9.7 million (39%)
  • Individuals $6.4 million (26%)
  • Corporations $3.4 million (13.8%)
  • Other 5.2 million (21.2%)

To date, the following organizations have spent most heavily on independent ads this year:

  • Service Employees International Union $4.6 million
  • Americans for Job Security: $1.5 million
  • Chamber of Commerce: $1.4 million

The original intent of the Campaign Finance Reform Law that was struck down by the Supreme Court was to keep a single entity such as a corporation from having undue influence on election results. Legislators aren’t breathing easy just yet about the early numbers being reported on spending. Many organizations are just gearing up their marketing machines for the general election.  Examples of 2 groups who plan to spend heavily during the general election include:

  • American Crossroads with an estimated expenditure of $8.5 million
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce with an estimated budget of $75 million

One industry watcher, Brett Kappel, says additional pending legislation intended to force disclosure on the source of donations for election ads may keep corporations on this sidelines this year. But businesses may begin spending on ads more freely in the 2012 election cycle.

[Source: Farnam, T.W. Unions outspending corporations on campaign ads despite court ruling. Washington Post​.com. 7 Jul. 2010. Web. 12 Jul. 2010] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.