Chris Cillizza looks at the effect that the Citizens United ruling has had on outside spending — money spent by third-party political organizations rather than by the parties or the candidates — during the last three election cycles. It’s pretty staggering. This chart speaks volumes:
Citizens United came down in January, 2010. Look at the leap from the 2006 midterm election to the 2010 midterm election (midterms always have lower spending than presidential elections). Now here’s the other fact. Most of that independent money goes to Republicans:
That was a $350 million difference in 2012. Obama won reelection despite that huge difference, but most of the independent money was spent in downticket races, not the presidential race, and Obama, as the incumbent, raised a lot more direct money to make up for that. More instructive is the difference in 2010, when Republicans had far more independent money spent on their behalf and won landslides in state and federal legislative seats. Independent money has a much bigger effect downticket than it does at the top.