Sheldon Adelson’s Lousy Election Bets

Aptyp_koK /ShutterstockAptyp_koK /ShutterstockCasino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, dropped more than $57 million on super-PACs in this election, becoming America’s most famous conservative megadonors (besides the Kochs). So what did they get in return for their investment? A look at the groups they funded and the races they tried to influence shows that overall, their return on investment was about 40 percent: Only two out of every five races these super-PACs spent on had the outcome the outside spending group desired. The two biggest Adelson-backed losers were Republican presidental hopefuls Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, to whose super-PACs the couple gave a total of $40 million. In the congressional races that Adelon-backed super-PACs spent on, the results were decidedly mixed. (A few of those races remain undecided.)

Here’s the full tally of those races so far:

Adelson donation Super-PAC Candidate supported/opposed by super-PAC Outcome ROI
$20 million Winning Our Future Pro-Newt Gingrich (R, president) He lost Bad bet
$20 million  Restore Our Future Pro-Mitt Romney (R, president) He lost Bad bet
$5 million  Congressional Leadership Fund Anti-Betty Sue Sutton (D, House, Ohio) She lost Good bet
    Anti-Pete Gallego (D, House, Tx) He won Bad bet
    Anti-Kathleen Hochul (D, House, New York) She lost Good bet
    Anti-Brad Schneider (D, House, Illinois) He won Bad bet
    Anti-Patrick Kreitlow (D, House, Wisconsin) He lost Good bet
    Anti-Shelley Adler (D, House, New Jersey) She lost Good bet
    Anti-Lois Capps (D, House, California) She won Bad bet
    Anti-Leonard Boswell (D, House, Iowa) He lost Good bet
    Anti-John Barrow (D, House, Georgia) He won Bad bet
    Anti-Val Demings (D, House, Florida) He lost Good bet
    Anti-Krysten Sinema (D, House, Arizona) Undecided  
    Anti-Mike McIntyre (D, House, North Carolina) Undecided  
    Anti-Gary McDowell (D, House, Michigan) Undecided  
$5 million YG Action Fund Anti-Larry Kissell (D, House, North Carolina) He lost Good bet
    Anti-John Tierney (D, House, Massachusetts) He won Bad bet
    Anti-William Enyart (D, House, Illinois) He won Bad bet
    Anti-Mark Critz (D, House, Pennsylvania) He lost Good bet
    Anti-Scott Kreadle (R, House, North Carolina) He lost Good bet
    Anti-Lois Frankel (D, House, Florida) She won Bad bet
    Anti-John Barrow (D, House, Georgia) He won Bad bet
    Pro-Richard Hudson (R, House, North Carolina) He won Good bet
    Pro-Adam Kinzinger (R, House, Illinois) He won Good bet
    Anti-Mike McIntyre (D, House, North Carolina) Undecided  
    Pro-Allen West (R, House, Florida) Undecided  
$2 million Freedom PAC Pro-Connie Mack (R, Senate, Florida) He lost Bad bet
    Anti-Patrick Murphy (D, House, Florida) Undecided  
$1.5 million Independence Virginia PAC Pro-George Allen (R, Senate, Virginia) He lost Bad bet
$1 million Ending Spending Action Fund Anti-Barack Obama (D, president) He won Bad bet
    Pro-Mitt Romney (R, president) He lost Bad bet
    Pro-Deb Fischer (R, Senate, Nebraska) She won Good bet
    Anti-Bob Kerrey (D, Senate, Nebraska) He lost Good bet
    Pro-Josh Mandel (R, Senate, Ohio) He lost Bad bet
    Anti-Sherrod Brown (D, Senate, Ohio) He won Bad bet
    Anti-Richard Carmona (D, Senate, Arizona) He lost Good bet
    Pro-Jeff Flake (R, Senate, Arizona) He won Good bet
    Pro-Ted Cruz (R, Senate, Texas) He won Good bet
    Anti-Tim Kaine (D, Senate, Virginia) He won Bad bet
    Anti-Jon Burning (R, Senate, Nebraska) He lost Good bet
    Pro-Connie Mack (R, Senate, Florida) He lost Bad bet
    Pro-George Allen (R, Senate, Virginia) He lost Bad bet
    Pro-Richard Mourdock (R, Senate, Indiana) He lost Bad bet
    Pro-Tommy Thompson (R, Senate, Wisconsin) He lost Bad bet
    Pro-Dean Heller (R, Senate, Nevada) He won Good bet
$1 million Patriot Prosperity PAC Pro-Shmuley Boteach (R, House, New Jersey) He lost Bad bet
    Pro-Joe Kyrillos (R, Senate, New Jersey) He lost Bad bet
$1 million Treasure Coast Jobs Coalition Pro-Allen West (R, House, Florida) Undecided  
$250,000 Conservative Renewal Pro-David Dewhurst (R, Senate, Texas) He lost Bad bet
$250,000 Texas Conservatives Fund Pro-David Dewhurst (R, Senate, Texas) He lost Bad bet
$190,000 Hispanic Leadership Fund Pro-Mitt Romney (R, president) He lost Bad bet
$57.7 million spent total       42% good bets, 58% bad bets

 Sources: Center for Public Integrity, Center for Responsive Politics, Sunlight Foundation

This article has been updated.

More MotherJones reporting on Dark Money

$500,000 MATCHING GIFT

In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones: A special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of the huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.