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November 14, 2013 4:52 PM Big Money

By Ed Kilgore

The Center for Public Integrity reports the Koch Brothers’ favorite political charity really kicked out the jams last year:

Americans for Prosperity — the main political arm of billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch — spent a staggering $122 million last year as it unsuccessfully attempted to defeat President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of documents filed in Colorado.
That’s more than the total amount the group had previously spent from its formation in 2004 through 2011. During its previous eight years of existence, Americans for Prosperity spent a combined $72 million, a review of Internal Revenue Service records indicates.
The group’s unprecedented spending in 2012 is a fivefold increase over 2010, a year when a surge of conservative voters helped Republicans regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives. And it represents a more than 1,600 percent increase above the $7 million it spent in 2008, when voters first elected Obama to the White House.

On another front in the measurement of money in politics, RealClearPolitics’ Sean Trende does an analysis of money in congressional campaigns and argues that beyond the amount needed to become known and credible, money tends to produce diminishing returns.

The truth is, the extra super PAC cash flowing to incumbents won’t help them that much, because incumbents are already at the point where an extra million dollars provides marginal benefits. But for challengers, that money would make a huge difference. In fact, if I were George Soros or the Koch Brothers, rather than beef up already-funded challengers, I’d identify long-shot challengers in marginal districts or Senate seats and begin running advertisements on their behalf.

Pairing Soros and the Kochs is kind of anachronistic insofar as Soros didnt open his checkbook all that much in 2012, and we saw above what the Kochs did. But we get the point.

Trende’s analysis also pours cold water on the Cooch Lost Because the Republican Establishment Didn’t Match the Macker’s Money theory:

Republicans spent well over $10 million on that race. Yes, Cuccinelli was outspent by Terry McAuliffe and liberal-leaning groups, but he was past the point where additional money would make a difference. People knew his name, had seen his ads, had heard him on the radio and had seen him at campaign rallies. That’s not to say that an extra $5 million would have made zero difference in the outcome, but I’m skeptical it would have closed the 2.5 percent gap that he lost by.

If you want to see why you lost, Cooch, better look in the mirror.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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