While the accounting profession's biggest political action committees lost their main bet on Election Day, they can hope to recoup some of their losses from their side bets in the Senate.
PACs from the biggest public accounting firms and the profession's main membership organizations had put their money almost 4:1 on Governor Mitt Romney for president (see "Accounting's PACs Back Romney"), so his defeat in the national race was a disappointment. But in the Senate, where the profession's contributions were less partisan and more widely spread (see our slideshow on "Accounting's Favorite Candidates"), they did much better.
Two of accounting's favorite candidates didn't make it to the election -- one was ousted in the primaries, and another retired -- and two more lost their races, but a grand total of six won their seats.
Here's how accounting's top 10 Senate candidates fared individually, in order of the size of the campaign contributions they received from accounting PACs.
1. Indiana: An early loss. Long before Tuesday's election, accounting PACs spent $52,000 trying to help Indiana Republican Senator Richard Lugar defend his seat against Tea Party insurgent Richard Mourdock in the primaries. It will be small consolation that Mourdock, a former state treasurer, was then defeated by Rep. Joe Donnelly, handing the Democrats a seat long held by Republicans.
2. Montana: A squeaker. The profession spent $42,500 to help Democrat Jon Tester keep his seat, in a race that some estimate cost $40 million. Early this morning, the votes were still being counted, by Tester was expected to be the victor -- and after that, he's expected to play an increasing rule in federal financial policy.
3. New York: A wise investment. Empire State Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand cruised to an almost 2-1 victory, helped, no doubt, by $40,500 of accounting PACs' money.
4. California: Juggernaut. Heading into her fourth term, California Democrat Dianne Feinstein raised over $9 million -- including $38,500 from the accounting profession -- against less than a million for her opponent. With seats on a number of important committees, including Appropriations, she's a nice friend to have.
5. Michigan: An easy win. Debbie Stabenow easily won a third term, with $37,999 of help from accounting PACs, who will enjoy having the Senate's third-ranking Democrat as a friend.
6. Massachusetts: A disappointment. In the second-most costly Senate race in the country, the profession's fundraisers spent $38,499 to help Republican Scott Brown, who lost a tight race to Elizabeth Warren.
7. Maine: Already lost. The $37,500 accounting PACs that gave middle-of-the-road Republican Senator Olympia Snowe melted away after she announced that she will retire at the end of her term. Her seat was won by Independent Angus King.
8. Maryland: Well-spent. The very-liberal Ben Cardin drew in $34,499 from accountants -- in part, no doubt, because of his seats on the Senate Finance Committee and on the Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight. He used the money well, defeating not one but two challengers.
9. New Mexico: An underdog underdoes. The only non-incumbent among accounting's top ten favorite candidates for the Senate, Republican Heather Wilson, lost to Democrat Martin Heinrich, despite $32,500 from the profession's PACs.
10. Ohio: Unusual, but worth it. The accounting profession's $30,000 in contributions certainly helped Democrat Sherrod Brown fend off more than $30 million in attack ads to keep his seat in the crucial state of Ohio.
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