$2 billion price tag for US presidential election

US election

Both campaigns already were nearing $1 billion each in expenditures by late October, and super PACs supporting Obama and Romney had spent more than $500 million in media ads. Politically oriented nonprofit "social welfare'' organizations that do not have to declare their finances or identify their fundraisers have spent hundreds of millions more on so-called issue ads.

The main pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, brought in $22 million in the campaign's final weeks, finishing with $152 million for the entire campaign. Adelson and his wife provided $10 million of that last-minute total _ as well as $23 million to American Crossroads, another pro-Romney super PAC headed by veteran Republican strategist Karl Rove. Other top late donors to Restore included Larry Ellison, head of software giant Oracle Corp., who gave $3 million, and Houston Texans owner Robert McNair, who gave $1 million. The Renco Group, a New York company headed by investor Ira Rennert, also gave $1 million.

The rival super PAC supporting Obama, Priorities USA Action, reported raising $15 million during the last weeks of the campaign. The group was run by a group of former White House aides. The committee's final haul accounted for about 20 percent of roughly $78 million in contributions this election cycle.

The group's top donors included Renaissance Technologies investors James H. Simons and Henry Laufer, who each gave $1.5 million. Chicago media mogul Fred Eychaner, Texas lawyer Steve Mostyn, and Stephen Robert, also of Renaissance, also gave $1 million, as did the Laborer's International Union of North America.

But Adelson was the election's single most influential donor, vowing he would give more than $100 million to Republican candidates by the election. His postelection super PAC total does not quite match that figure, but the casino magnate also hinted broadly he would also give millions more to Republican-leaning nonprofits that do not have to report their war chests to the FEC but instead provide confidential figures to the Internal Revenue Service.

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