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A couple of weeks ago, NCFREE released our listing of top PACs. NCFREE is working on several projects this year that look back at specific datasets over the decade to provide context to how the state is evolving. In that spirit, we took a look at 2020’s top PACs and how those same PACs performed in the 2010 cycle.

The PACs are listed in order of their expenditures in the 2020 cycle, and the listed rank is their ranking in the 2010 cycle next to their expenditure amount in that cycle. Separately from the chart below, NCFREE compared the top 21 PACs in the 2010 cycle to the top 21 PACs in the 2020 cycle.

Total expenditures for 2010’s top 21 PACs: $5,196,000

Total expenditures for 2020’s top 21 PACs: $20,207,793

Though the increase in PAC spending in a decade nearly quadrupled, there are a couple of standout markers that attributed to the massive increase.

Key Observations:

  1. NEW PACs: The PACs in a blue font were not present in the top 100 PACs of the 2009-2010 cycle, and 3 of the 5 account for over a million dollars. More than that, Democratic Action, National Democratic Redistricting PAC, DAGA PAC, and Flippable are national PACs that invested heavily in the state.
  2. NATIONAL INVESTMENT: Since 2010, North Carolina evolved from a relatively average state in the political landscape to one of the most fought over states in the union – on both sides of the aisle. The entrance of national organizations from 501(c)(4)s to independent expenditures (IEs) to PACs is a contributor to the change in importance this decade for the Old North State and is represented in the chart below by PACs like: Democratic Action, National Democratic Redistricting PAC, DAGA PAC, Emily’s List, and Flippable.
  3. THE POWER OF THE DOLLAR: As NC has gained national clout and more and more national groups have invested in our state, the dollar doesn’t go as far as it did in 2010. Not even taking inflation into account, in order to fight through the political noise and have a chance to reach the voter with a message, candidates, IEs, and PACs have to raise more money and ultimately, spend more money. The majority of the top PACs in 2020 nearly doubled their expenditures since 2010 with very few exceptions.






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