Speed Reads

Deep pockets

Billionaires push political spending to record-breaking $16.7 billion

An influx of cash from billionaire donors is pushing political spending in the 2022 midterm elections to record-breaking highs. It is estimated to hit $16.7 billion after Election Day tallies are complete. The bulk of the money is coming from "largely unregulated super PACs" financed primarily by Republican megadonors, The New York Times reports.

An analysis by the non-partisan Open Secrets released on Thursday predicted that the total amount of money spent on campaigns in 2021 and 2022 would easily surpass the previous midterm spending record of $14 billion in 2018.

This year's total amount spent on federal races has already surpassed the 2018 inflation-adjusted record, at $7.5 billion compared to $7.1 billion four years ago. When the final count is tallied, it is expected to reach $8.9 billion, per the Times. Regarding where the cash flow comes from, 15.4 percent of the total was donated by billionaires, an increase from 11.9 percent in 2020, and 15.3 percent in 2018. The top 1 percent of donors in terms of income level have provided 38 percent of the funds. 

Inflation is putting pressure on smaller donors to keep up with the money flowing in from billionaires, who can quickly funnel in funds. 

"This is a crucial sector of the contribution base because they are able to nimbly put in whatever amounts are needed at any moment," said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of Open Secrets. "It's a highly volatile source, and it could change rapidly, even in the next few days."