Citizens United Leads to Unprecedented Campaign Spending in Iowa

Daniel Stevens | June 02, 2015

The 2016 presidential contest is more than 17 months away, but the major party candidates have already started campaigning in Iowa. Some have yet to officially enter the race, but their campaign committees and outside spending groups are already raising millions of dollars to influence the outcome of the election. Some political fundraising experts predict the total cost of the election could reach $5 billion, and GOP strategists say Republican candidates will need $75 million just to compete in the early caucus and primary states.

If history is any guide, the presidential contest will result in a flood of political spending in Iowa. MapLight's new report highlights how election spending in Iowa has increased dramatically in recent years, resulting from the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.



Report highlights:

  • During the 2014 election, Iowa candidates running for U.S. House and Senate, and their supporting organizations, spent $112 million – an increase of 327 percent from 2010, during the last midterm election cycle.
  • In particular, Iowa Senate candidates, and their supporting organizations, spent a staggering $85 million on the 2014 election – an increase of 661 percent from 2010, when Iowa last elected a Senator.
  • Between 2010 and 2014, outside spending increased by 1,239 percent, rising to more than $74 million.
  • On average, outside spending groups spent $3.2 million per Iowa congressional seat in 2012 compared to about $1 million in 2010, even though Iowa lost a congressional district after the 2010 Census was finalized. Nationally, outside groups spent an average of about $1 million per congressional race in 2012.*

Full report:

This is the average amount spent by all outside spending groups in House races where the total amount spent by outside spending groups was more than $1,000.

This report was compiled by MapLight for Price Iowa Pays.


MapLight utilized campaign spending data tracked by to determine the total amount spent by all candidates and outside spending groups in Iowa between January 1, 2007, and December 31, 2014. MapLight compiled the data as of May 19, 2015.