CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM….After the election, I’m sure we’ll all spend plenty of time navel gazing about what it all means. But even now, I have a feeling we should all be able to agree on one thing: that whole McCain-Feingold deal didn’t work out so well, did it?

The Center for Responsive Politics released their final spending projections for this campaign cycle a couple of days ago, and this year’s grand total is ? drumroll please ? $4 billion. That’s up 30% from an already astronomical $3 billion in 2000, an increase that’s just a wee bit higher than the inflation rate.

When you cut through the trivia, here’s what happened:

  • McCain-Feingold raised the maximum personal contribution from $1,000 to $2,000, and sure enough, everyone who contributed a grand in the last election cycle contributed two grand this one. The total amount of personal contributions sloshing around in the system increased by a billion dollars.

  • There was about $500 million in soft money spending in 2000, and it went away completely. However, it was replaced by $400 million in spending by 527 groups.

  • However, CRP says its estimate for 527 spending is ” very conservative,” and they didn’t include spending by 501c groups at all. Reading between the lines, I wouldn’t be surprised if total 527/501c spending this year was upwards of a billion dollars.

So: a billion dollars of additional hard money, and probably half a billion dollars more in advocacy group money. In other words, even though soft money is gone, the campaigns have more money, the parties have more money, and advocacy groups have more money.

That wasn’t exactly the plan, was it?

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