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Outside Spending

A January 2010 Supreme Court decision (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission) permits corporations and unions to make political expenditures from their treasuries directly and through other organizations, as long as the spending -- often in the form of TV ads -- is done independently of any candidate. In many cases, the activity takes place without complete or immediate disclosure about who is funding it, preventing voters from understanding who is truly behind many political messages. The spending figures cited are what the groups reported to the FEC; it does not account for all the money the groups spent, since certain kinds of ads are not required to be reported. See more on the reporting rules regarding outside spending.

Select cycle:

Total by Type of Spender, 2020

Type of Group Total Spent # of Groups
# of Groups
Spending to date
Super PACs $812,571,1982,113371
Social Welfare 501(c)(4) $32,748,264N/A93
Trade Assns 501(c)(6) $3,555,405N/A7
Unions 501(c)(5) $5,568,943N/A10
Parties $150,164,19612721
Other (corporations, individual people, other groups, etc) $232,838,595753203
Grand Total:$1,237,446,6013,144705

Outside Spending by Cycle thru October 1st of election year, Excluding Party Committees

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Top Groups, Excluding Party Committees, 2020

Organization Total View* Independent
527s 501c
Senate Leadership Fund $93,542,125 C $93,542,125 $0 $0 x
Senate Majority PAC $82,934,124 L $82,934,124 $0 $0 x
Priorities USA Action $79,152,120 L $79,152,120 $0 $0
America First Action $56,068,829 C $56,068,829 $0 $0 x
Preserve America PAC $51,828,665 C $51,828,665 $0 $0 x

* C = Conservative, L = Liberal
Indicates that this organization has a 527 committee registered with the IRS. The committee's 527 spending outside of electioneering communications is NOT included in these totals. Read more about 527s.

Top Races, Excluding Party Committees, 2020

RaceTotalFor DemsAgainst DemsFor RepubsAgainst Repubs
Presidential $463,221,877 $103,701,401 $143,553,408 $32,894,507 $178,678,043
North Carolina Senate $81,094,773 $18,352,539 $30,618,126 $5,323,769 $26,800,339
Iowa Senate $53,548,932 $8,745,937 $19,641,342 $2,898,952 $22,262,701
Maine Senate $41,847,748 $2,031,338 $11,365,505 $5,692,481 $21,898,746
Montana Senate $37,122,892 $3,059,042 $15,304,883 $4,314,945 $12,991,932
Our math: Why don't the numbers add up?

Top Candidates, Excluding Party Committees, 2020

CandidateRaceTotalFor DemsAgainst DemsFor RepubsAgainst RepubsResults
Biden, Joe (D) PRES $237,837,201 $94,578,782 $143,258,419 $0 $0 Active Candidate
Trump, Donald (R) PRES $215,868,136 $0 $0 $32,810,599 $178,663,033 Active Candidate
Cunningham, Cal (D) NCS1 $46,292,389 $15,674,263 $30,618,126 $0 $0 Active Candidate
Tillis, Thom (R) NCS1 $32,124,108 $0 $0 $5,323,769 $26,800,339 Active Candidate
Collins, Susan M (R) MES2 $28,450,905 $0 $0 $5,692,481 $21,898,746 Active Candidate

Feel free to distribute or cite this material, but please credit the Center for Responsive Politics. For permission to reprint for commercial uses, such as textbooks, contact the Center: info@crp.org

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