Use Your Outside Spending Voice

What has happened to campaign spending by outside groups (not the candidates) since 1990?

  1. How accurate was your insouciant little prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this data?

  3. What has caused this change in outside spending over time?

  4. What is the most important consequence of this change in outside spending over time?

  5. If the trends illustrated in this chart continue, what will outside spending levels be like in another decade?

  6. Explain whether this is good news or bad news.

  7. Explain whether this increases or decreases the power of candidates.

  8. Explain the impact of increased outside spending on the level of American democracy.

  9. Describe the level of wealth of the kinds of groups, corporations, and people who spend most of this outside money.

  10. Explain whether this chart supports the claim that the United States political system is more of an elite democracy or more of a participatory democracy.

  11. On Jan. 21, 2010, in the landmark Citizens United v. FEC ruling, the Supreme Court overturned restrictions on independent expenditures from corporations and labor unions. This decision set a precedent that would spawn the creation of so-called super PACs, which can accept unlimited contributions from corporations, unions and other groups. What happened to levels of outside spending after this 2010 ruling?

  12. What exactly does outside spending mean?

  13. What are Super PACs, anyway?

  14. Do you think Marvel will make a Super PAC comic?

  15. In Citizens United v. FEC the Supreme Court ruled that limits on outside spending were a violation of the free speech clause of the First Amendment. Do you agree with the Court’s interpretation of the First Amendment?

Visual Extension

Learning Extension

Action Extension

Super Heroes have superpowers that mere mortals do NOT possess. Super PACs have super powers, too. Learn a little more about the super powers of Super PACs and create your very own SUPER PAC! Be sure to name your Super PAC and include a list of your super powers. A drawing would be nice! Share your Super PAC in class or online. *Don’t forget to register your Super PAC with the Federal Election Commission.

Our World In Data Extension

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