More than 3.2 million Americans contributed to federal candidates in the 2016 elections, but fewer than 16,000 of them provided half the donations— a sign of the increasing concentration of donor activity in the United States, according to a new report.
The analysis released Friday by the Bipartisan Policy Center mapped the growing influence of rich political contributors and independent political groups in the seven years since federal court decisions unleashed a new era of big-money spending.
Super PACs spent $1.1 billion in the 2016 elections, nearly 17 times more than such independent political committees put into federal races in 2010, the first year they came into existence, the report found.
“The system has completely transformed,” said Robert Bauer, a Democratic election law attorney who authored the report with GOP campaign-finance lawyer Benjamin Ginsberg and Stanford Law School professor Nathaniel Persily.
Together, they outlined the findings of a panel of 16 political scientists on the legal, political and technological shifts in the role of money on federal campaigns in the past 15 years. The research was primarily funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Democracy Fund.