In the first post-Citizens United presidential election Karl Rove proved one thing: Republicans can spend grotesque amounts of money and rarely do they have anything to show for it. Planned Parenthood, on the other hand, does.
Planned Parenthood’s political wing crushed Karl Rove’s conservative action groups with a near perfect return on its election spending. In a post-election spending post-mortem, the Sunlight Foundation found that Planned Parenthood’s advocacy arm and super-PAC spent approximately $5 million and $7 million respectively to oppose Republicans and support Democrats in the general election. That’s a rate of return of 98 percent!
This was the most involved Planned Parenthood’s political wing has been in a general election. But the response was obviously necessary after the Tea Party wave of 2010 brought in hard-right candidates determined to end Planned Parenthood’s funding as a healthcare provider for low income women.
Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, by comparison, has a rate of return of 1.3 percent. That’s it. It feels like there’s an Occupy joke in there somewhere.
There is, without a doubt, a certain amount of joy in knowing Rove could have had just as much electoral success piling up his hundreds of millions in dollars and lighting it on fire. Schadenfreude aside, it should be noted that the candidates Planned Parenthood backed, like Senator Claire McCaskill, are Democrats and pro-choice, but they are hardly pro-abortion radicals but status quo pragmatists.
That means women’s health advocates had to spend tens of millions of dollars to make sure things didn’t get worse rather than spending that money to make them better. The results were worth every penny, but I’m looking forward to the day when we can spend money promoting a pro-woman agenda and passing pro-woman legislation. The good news is Planned Parenthood and similar pro-woman advocacy groups have proven they can get results and we have the base needed to build on. Our challenge is to carry this momentum and our message into the midterm elections and beyond. That’s how change really happens.
Photo from S.MiRK via flickr.