On the 4-year anniversary of the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, which opened up elections to a flood of outside money, Chris Cillizza posts six charts showing how it's affected campaign spending since 2010. The chart below, based on data from Open Secrets, shows spending on midterm elections through January 21 in order to get a clean comparison of 2014 with previous election years.
Up through 2006, outside spending at this point in the election cycle had been flat for years at a very low level. In 2010, we were on an upward trajectory even before the Citizens United decision was handed down. And 2014? With Citizens United now in full operation, the sluice gates have opened wide. Outside spending is 25 times higher than it was at this point in 2006. Welcome to the future of American elections.
But this is all a bit bloodless. For a more dramatic illustration of what this means in real life, check out Andy Kroll's profile of the DeVos clan and how they use their Amway-driven fortune to support right-wing causes and defund the left.