With a notable list of upsets in the 2014 election, particularly in the Senate, disclosure filings from PACs for late 2014 show a particularly energetic effort to show support for the winners who knocked out the candidates they had invested so much in just weeks earlier. According to OpenSecrets.org data, 208 different PACs — mostly affiliated with corporations and trade associations, but also a handful of unions — made the delicate jump from financially backing the incumbent in the run up to Election Day, to cutting a check for the victorious challenger in the days and weeks afterwards.
These 208 organizations gave 17 incumbents more than $1.8 million prior to their defeats, and in the final 57 days of 2014 had already showered their replacements with $1,040,000.
Newly anointed GOP Sens. Thom Tillis (N.C.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.) were suddenly powerful magnets for PAC money: Both collected more than $100,000 in checks from PACs that had backed the incumbents in their states by the end of November. Given that the races they won were the hardest fought — Tillis’ race was the most expensive congressional race ever — it wasn’t surprising that many PACs might be caught on the wrong side of the fight and then would quickly attempt to make peace with the giant killers.
Among victorious Senate challengers, Tillis led by a mile in picking up financial support from PACs that previously backed his opponent, Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan. By the end of December, he’d collected more than $330,000 from 103 different PACs that had shelled out $485,000 for Hagan in the 2014 cycle. That’s a significant number, though less so in context: In the 2014 cycle, Hagan’s campaign had raised more than $2.8 million from 1,539 different PACs.
Cotton also ended up doing well with PACs that had backed Democrat Mark Pryor— 63 groups that gave Pryor $393,000 quickly pivoted and turned over at least $195,000 to Cotton.In the words of Monty Python:
MINSTREL: Brave Sir Robin ran away
MINSTREL (singing): Bravely ran away away
ROBIN: I didn't!
MINSTREL (singing): When danger reared its ugly head, He bravely turned his tail and fled
MINSTREL (singing): Yes Brave Sir Robin turned about
ROBIN: I didn't!
MINSTREL (singing): And gallantly he chickened out Bravely taking to his feet
ROBIN: I never did!
MINSTREL (singing): He beat a very brave retreat
ROBIN: Oh, lie!
MINSTREL (singing): Bravest of the brave Sir Robin
ROBIN: I never!