While there are many ways to cut the campaign finance data, I wanted to update my previous post on this topic, for a comparison to the data that was available as of Election Day. The candidate/independent expenditure breakdown looks like this:
These totals represent a nearly equal game between the candidates. However, this may not be a fair comparison. The totals for the individual candidates are money raised, not spent (as of Election Day), and the IE total includes money from the Republican primaries. Also, money spent by the parties on behalf of their standard bearers are not included here.
Some evidence suggests that the Obama team slightly outspent the Romney team. But for now, it is safe to conclude that the election was not "bought." Both candidates and their supporters spent a lot of money. You have to have money to compete, but it's not clear that there is a direct causal connection between raising/spending more than your opponent, and winning.
We should continue to expect very expensive elections in future years, with lots of "investment" from both sides. The idea that a bunch of billionaires regret their investment in Romney this morning and wouldn't "misspend" their funds again, is misguided. Even good investors know that sometimes you take a loss.