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Interactive: Big Polluters’ Big Ad Spending in the 2012 Elections

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Voters this year rejected polluter-backed candidates in some of the most expensive races targeted by outside groups. In the final two months of the campaign, dirty energy allies spent more than $270 million on misleading TV ads in presidential and congressional races, and on industry ads promoting polluter interests. That tally includes more than $31 million in energy-specific TV ads.

Despite record outside spending, candidates that spoke out for clean energy and common-sense public protections won down the ballot. President Barack Obama alone faced more than $176 million of ads from pro-polluter groups including Americans for Prosperity, Restore Our Future, and Crossroads GPS since September, yet he still captured 332 electoral votes. Polluters’ picks for the Senate also lost, including in heavily contested races in Montana, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin, despite an impressive $60 million tally on TV ads. These same polluter interests also spent more than $50 million since September to influence House of Representatives races.

Voters have spoken in 2012 but the election is not the end of the efforts to obstruct clean energy, public health protections, and climate action. Oil, gas, and coal industries’ “branding” campaigns—a $7 million effort between September and November—have relaunched after the election. Groups such as the American Petroleum Institute—responsible for the “I’m an Energy Voter” campaign—and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity have pumped millions of dollars more into ads protecting their special interests.

The map below shows the states that were polluter allies’ biggest targets in the final two months of the 2012 election.

Noreen Nielsen is the Energy Communications Director for the Think Progress War Room at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Rebecca Leber is a Research Assistant at the Action Fund.

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