Toss-Up Senate Races Are Key Targets for Dark Money

MapLight has produced a series of reports and visualizations on how the growth of dark money has impacted the nature of spending in elections using data from OpenSecrets.orgMapLight has produced a series of reports and visualizations on how the growth of 'dark money' has impacted the nature of spending in elections. Our first report, "Social Welfare" Groups Dominate Dark Money Spending on Congressional Elections, examined the dramatic increase in spending by 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations in congressional elections from January 1, 1999 - December 31, 2012.

Our second report, Toss-Up Senate Races Are Key Targets for Dark Money, examines targeted spending of dark money groups on the Senate's most competitive races.

During the 2012 elections, dark money groups — organizations that spend money on elections but do not have to disclose the sources of their contributions — focused their spending on races that gave them the best opportunity to change the outcome in favor of their preferred candidate.

  • Dark money groups spent, on average, $8.5 million on 2012 Senate races that were rated "toss-ups" by the New York Times.
  • Dark money groups spent, on average, $1.5 million on 2012 Senate races that the New York Times rated "solid" or "leaning" in favor of one of the candidates by the New York Times.
  • In total, dark money groups spent $105 million on 2012 Senate races.

This report was updated on 2/26/14.

About MapLight: MapLight is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that reveals money's influence on politics. If our work has been helpful to you, please consider supporting us.