Money is Speech - What are People Saying? CBMG provides clear and comprehensive analysis of political spending  
October 10, 2013
Government Shutdown Edition: October 10

Not that it is a surprise, but the government shutdown extravaganza (read: fiasco) is taking a toll on the electronic campaign finance disclosure portal at the Federal Election Commission website.  Certain interactive features on the FEC website are unavailable.

After a quiet summer and early autumn, disclosures for the 2014 election cycle are about the heat up. We’ll keep an eye on the FEC, sort out the RSS feeds and get the daily disclosure breakdown back on CBMG as soon as it is available.  

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September 5, 2013
Independent Expenditures: August 5 - September 5

Hello everyone. As the 2013 election calendar oozed to a near standstill in August, outside political spending followed suit. The Federal Election Commission received just 36 electronic independent expenditure disclosures over the last month - a very low total for 30 days. Most of the spending - both in value and in disclosure frequency - took place in early August.  Here are the quick hits for the last month.

The roundup: Over $566,000 in outside spending by 11 groups targeting 5 different elections.  

Big Spender: Mobilization Project dropped the most cash in August. This pro-Democrat super PAC, spent over $210,000 in support of Democratic Party front-runner for the US Senate in New Jersey, Corey Booker.  In 2013, Mobilization Project has spent nearly $550,000 - all supporting Booker’s candidacy.  The Club for Growth Action super PAC also spent heavily in August, over $140,000 in opposition of Mark Pryor (D-AR). Check the summary table below for more detail. 

Who’s on top: Pro-Republican groups. These outside money organizations dropped a bit more money than their pro-Democratic equivalents, spending roughly $288,000 and $277,000, respectively.  The chart below breaks down the supporting/opposition expenditures for each candidate.  

What did they buy? Media-related expenditures are still the must-have item, despite some high canvassing-related and voter contact expenditures by pro-Booker organizations.  

House or Senate: The Senate.  Groups disclosed just over $90,000 on House elections. The remainder poured into Senate contests.  

As spending increases over the next few months, check back at CBMG for the summary and breakdown of all independent political spending.  

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August 5, 2013
Independent Expenditures: July 24 - August 4

After a much needed vacation-induced hiatus, we’re back with updates on the independent political spending from the past few weeks. Check all the disclosure summary table for the latest disclosures.

The roundup: 7 organizations disclosed over $680,000 targeting 4 different elections

Big spender: The Senate Majority PAC. Senate Majority spent nearly $270,000 on media-related expenditures opposing incumbent Republican Senate Minority Leader from Kentucky Mitch McConnell. The pro-Democrat super PAC disclosed vast amounts of cash during the previous election cycle and already spent over $1.6 million this year.

Who’s on top: The Democrats.  All but $91,000 – the disclosure from Kentuckians for Strong Leadership – were all made in favor of the Democratic Party candidates in the 4 targeted elections.

What did they buy: Must-have items ranged from media expenditures to t-shirts, but ad production and buys attracted most of the cash.  

Aside from McConnell, New Jersey Senate hopeful Corey Booker received over $200,00 of outside support from three different organizations.

Thanks for checking out CBMG! Come back soon for more information on the Summer’s independent expenditures. 

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July 12, 2013
Independent Expenditures July 1 - 11

Since the end of the Massachusetts Senate Special election it’s been a quiet period for independent expenditures. In the past two weeks only three groups have disclosed any outside political spending to the FEC. Check the table below for the summary of the expenditures. 

Both Patriot Majority and Senate Majority are spending heavily in 2013. Each group dropped a significant amount of cash in Massachusetts and have already registered disclosures targeting Mitch McConnell in Kentucky.  Now they are going after Tom Cotton, the new Representative for the Arkansas 4th Congressional District.  As usual, the groups purchased advertising production services and placement across TV and web platforms. 

Looking closer at the Bluegrass State, the Kentuckians for Strong Leadership expenditure answered the $277,000 disclosed against Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in late June. The chart below quickly displays the spending disparity so far. 

So, the pro-Grimes forces are out to an early lead in the spending race for this Senate election. Given McConnell’s prominence it is a near certainty that some large groups will come to his aid as the cycle progresses. 

We’ll keep our eye on all independent expenditures throughout the summer.  Thanks for checking back and follow CBMG on twitter. 

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June 28, 2013
Independent Expenditures - on to the next one

By now we all know that Democrat Ed Markey easily won the Massachusetts Senate Special election last week and, also, had way more money behind his election efforts than his rival, Gabriel Gomez. After spending weeks focusing on the election in the Bay State, independent expenditures are now going other places. 

Republican Senator from Kentucky, Mitch McConnell, has been the target of two large pro-Democrat organizations in the last few weeks.  Yesterday, the super PAC, Senate Majority PAC, disclosed over $14,000 against the Senate Minority Leader. This expenditure added to the large opposition outlay filed the week previous by the Patriot Majority USA organization. See the charts below for a summary of the disclosures by both groups:

In the 2012 cycle, these two groups spent over $35 million in favor of Democratic candidates for the Senate. We’ll keep an eye on them and all other groups filing disclosures as summer progresses. 

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June 25, 2013
Independent Expenditures - June 24

Today is Election Day in the Massachusetts Senate Special election between front runner Ed Markey (D) and Gabriel Gomez (R). Yesterday, outside spending groups filed last-minute independent expenditures with the FEC. Four groups registered expenditures – two in favor of each candidate.  Groups will register more filings in the next few days, so it will be a little while before we have a clear picture of all the outside cash that flooded into this election. 

Here are the quick hits:

The roundup: Four groups disclosed nearly $75,000. For detail, spending summary table below: 

The big spender: NextGen Committee, one of the more active super PAC’s supporting Ed Markey during this cycle, spent $31,000 on the production of an aerial banner. So far, NextGen has disclosed just over $1,000,000 in 2013, all in favor of Markey.

Who’s on top? Pro-Markey groups. NextGen and League of Conservation Voters collectively spent over $45,000 on Markey compared to just $29,000 on Gomez. 

What did they buy? Groups spent most of their cash on items for direct contact with voters – telephone contact and signage. 

As was the case for the entire general election, pro-Markey groups filed more last minute expenditures than their pro-Gomez rivals. Like said previously, more spending will trickle in over the next few days, but it seems almost assured that Markey will maintain his huge outside money advantage. 

After the dust settles, we’ll do a couple of wash-up posts to analyze the full spending picture in this election, alongside our usual disclosure coverage. 

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June 22, 2013
Independent Expenditures - June 21

Welcome back to CBMG for your weekend update on outside spending in politics. With election day for the Massachusetts Senate Special election fast approaching, all expenditures filed on Friday targeted the two candidates in this race, Gabriel Gomez (R) and Ed Markey (D). 

Here are the quick hits:

The roundup: Six groups disclosed $134,000 collectively, all in the MA Senate election. Check the outside spending summary table below. 

The big spender: Senate Majority PAC. As the above table shows, this pro- Democratic Party super PAC disclosed over $60,000 on direct mailers opposing Gabriel Gomez. Senate Majority PAC was a big player in the 2012 election cycle and has filed over $1.3 million in spending so far in 2013. 

Who’s on top? The pro-Markey groups.  In total, these outside money organizations spent just over $115,000 in favor of Markey’s election efforts. The chart below displays the disparity in the funding between the two camps: 

What did they buy? Mail-related products and services. 82% of Friday’s cash went toward direct mailers and GOTV mailers. In general, aside from expensive media-related expenditures, mail-oriented spending is generally quite robust. 

So, on Friday, Markey continued to attract heavy favorable spending and lengthened his lead over Gomez in the outside money race in this election. As yesterday’s post referenced, Markey has held a commanding lead in the polls throughout the general election. With three days until the ballots are counted, Markey’s financial lead looks insurmountable.  

Keep checking CBMG for more updates. Have a great weekend all. 

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June 21, 2013
Massachusetts Senate Special Election - Before the homestretch

Four days remain until the people of Massachusetts cast their ballots in the 2013 Senate Special election between Democrat Ed Markey and Republican Gabriel Gomez. Today’s post will quickly explore the outside spending disclosures in this race since the start of the primary. We will focus on the expenditure levels over time and leave the analysis of what these outside groups bought until after the election.

So, by how much have the pro-Markey outside money groups outspent the pro-Gomez organizations? Has there been a significant difference in the timing of the expenditures? Is there a correlation between spending levels and polling results over the past seven weeks of the general election?   First, let’s take a look at the expenditures targeting Ed Markey.

Until now, groups have disclosed $1.6 million on Markey, over $920,000 supporting and $698,000 opposing the Democratic Party hopeful.  Significant supportive spending began in mid-May and opposition expenditures took off in mid-June.  


Groups targeting Gomez have disclosed a whopping $3.2 million since the start of May. Three factors to note here:

  • Most of the cash (nearly $2.6 million) was spent against Gomez.               
  • Spending began in late May, trailing the Markey-related expenditures
  • Pro-Gomez outside cash has only just entered the race

The chart below is a summary of the previous two. Pro-Markey expenditures include all the cash supporting Markey and opposing Gomez. The pro-Gomez category includes the cash supporting Gomez and opposing Markey. 


Pro-Markey groups have dominated the outside spending picture during the entire general election.  Shockingly, pro-Gomez groups did not register an expenditure until after June 12th, when their pro-Markey rivals already had an advantage of over $2 million. After a couple of expenditures the pro-Gomez groups decreased the gap to $1.4 million, but the margin has since returned to $2 million-plus. 

Over this period of time, Markey has held a steady lead in the polls. The final chart in today’s post displays the percentage lead that Markey has in the polls over Gomez.


(Note: the above chart includes polling data from Real Clear Politics)

Markey has held a healthy lead in the polls since the start of the general election period. Roughly speaking, there does not appear to be a correlation between pro-Markey spending levels and the polls.

The final data point is from a poll ending on June 14th. Given the pro-Gomez outside expenditures were made from June 13th onward, the polling results to not reflect the impact any of these disclosures may have had. 

Keep checking back for more updates before Tuesdays election and analysis of all the outside spending in national politics. 

As always, thanks for coming to CBMG!

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June 21, 2013
Independent Expenditures - June 20

Today’s independent expenditure breakdown post will be short and sweet. Six groups disclosed over $400,000 in two states. Outside money groups targeted Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Massachusetts Senate Special election foes, Ed Markey (D) and Gabriel Gomez (R).  The table below summarizes the disclosures:


Aside from the large expenditure by Patriot Majority USA for TV ads opposing Mitch McConnell, Thursday’s disclosures focused on the election in Massachusetts. The five remaining groups spent nearly $150,000 on a mixture of mail/telephone-related voter contact services and media-related expenditures. Pro-Gomez groups spent a little bit more than the pro-Markey forces.  The table below has a full breakdown:


With this relative spending stalemate, Markey retains his significant lead in the   outside money race. Later today we’ll have an outside spending summary post for the election between Markey and Gomez. 

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June 20, 2013
Independent Expenditures - June 19

In today’s post, the Going for Gomez edition, we’re going to cover yesterday’s independent expenditures. As June 25 approaches, the date for the Massachusetts Senate Special election, more outside groups are getting involved and pro-Gomez disclosures are surging.  


Here are the quick hits:

The roundup: 6 groups disclosed a total of $504,000 targeting Ed Markey (D) and Gabriel Gomez (R)

Big spender: Americans for Prosperity Action spent over $407,000 in total, both supporting Gomez and opposing Markey. They purchased high-ticket media placement s and production services. AfPA has been the main group throwing significant support behind Gomez during the general election period. Their spending, however, only started taking off over the last couple of weeks.

Who’s on top? Pro-Gomez groups. AfPA, along with the Hispanic Leadership Fund and American Unity PAC, disclosed nearly $440,000 supporting Gomez or opposing Markey.  The chart below displays the spending disparity between the two camps on the 19th



Again, if you like what you read, follow us on Twitter and tell your friends to learn about how money is influencing elections near you.  Check back later for more updates. 

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