WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) - The 2012 presidential race was the most expensive in history, as President Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney topped $2 billion in combined fundraising, the final campaign tallies show.
At the same time, a cadre of super wealthy donors and deep-pocketed labor unions helped fuel massive last-minute spending by independent super PACs in the presidential contest and congressional races. Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, led the way, pumping more than $91 million into outside groups in this election. More than $4 out of every $10 they donated to super PACs came in the final weeks of the campaign.
In all, experts predict the total price tag of federal elections will hit a record $6 billion.
Post-election reports show a flurry of activity in the campaign's waning days. President Obama took in $88.1 million between Oct. 18 and Nov. 26 and spent more than $176 million, including nearly $108 million on television commercials, online ads and other advertising expenses.
Romney's campaign and its related arms took in $85.9 million, and he spent $66 million on advertising in the final weeks of the election.
Despite the loss, Romney finance chairman Spencer Zwick said "every dollar we raised was put to use in the effort to elect Mitt Romney." He called fundraising record "the most successful in Republican Party history."
Fredreka Schouten and Christopher Schnaars, USA TODAY