Months of labor and billions of dollars behind Election Day 2014

  • Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst embraces retired police officer and horseman Richard Hoffman of Jasper Countyat the Newton Manufacturing Company during her ‘One More Thing’ 24-hour campaign push to election day, Nov. 3, 2014 in Newton, Iowa. According to the polls, Ernst is in a neck-and-neck race with her opponent, Democratic candidate Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA), and the election in Iowa could decide which party controls the U.S. Senate. 
  • Former Florida Governor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist talks with a worker behind the deli counter at Too-Jays Deli during his four-city bus campaign tour in Lake Worth, Florida, Nov. 3, 2014. Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott and Crist remain statistically tied in their bitterly fought campaign, according to a poll released on Monday, the eve of Election Day. 
  • Stickers show support for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst outside the Newton Manufacturing Company during Ernst’s ‘One More Thing’ 24-hour campaign push to election day, Nov. 3, 2014 in Newton, Iowa. According to the polls, Ernst is in a neck-and-neck race with her opponent, Democratic candidate Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA), and the election in Iowa could decide which party controls the U.S. Senate.
  • Miriam Butterfield listens to Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst during a campaign stop at the Amtrak Osceola Train Depot, Nov. 2, 2014 in Osceola, Iowa. A Des Moines Register poll publised Saturday put Ernst 7 points ahead of her opponent, Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA), three days before the election. During a Saturday conference call, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told progerssive activists “If we win Iowa, we’re going to be just fine. Iowa is critical.”
  • A campaign worker sets up campaign signs before the start of former President Bill Clinton’s appearance with Sen. Mark Pryor, (D-AR), at a campaign rally for Arkansas Democrats in Texarkana, Ark. on Nov. 2, 2014.
  • Former Florida Governor and now Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist sits with Pastor Lenard C. Johnson (L) as he waits to be introduced to speak during a visit to the Greater Mt. Olive Baptist Church, where he encouraged people to vote on Nov. 2, 2014 in Delray Beach, Florida. Crist is facing off against incumbent Republican Governor Rick Scott in the Nov. 4, 2014 election.
  • Democratic and Republican supporters for Georgia U.S. Senatorial Candidates Michelle Nunn and David Perdue rally outside a debate at WSB TV studios in Atlanta, Georgia November 2, 2014. REUTERS/Tami Chappell
  • Former President Bill Clinton is reflected in the local pizza shop as he speaks during a campaign rally for Arkansas Democrats in Texarkana, Ark. on Nov. 2, 2014.
  • Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst (L) hugs a supporter during a campaign stop at the Amtrak Osceola Train Depot, Nov. 2, 2014 in Osceola, Iowa.
  • Former U.S. President Bill Clinton (L) speaks during a campaign rally as U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor (C) (D-AR) and Arkansas democratic candidate for governor Mike Ross look on, Nov. 2, 2014 in Texarkana, Arkansas.
  • Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush campaigns with Florida Governor Rick Scott during a stop at Milander Park on Nov. 2, 2014 in Hialeah, Florida. Republican Governor Rick Scott is running against former Florida Governor Charlie Crist in the Nov. 4, 2014 election.
  • Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst greets supporters during a campaign stop at the Amtrak Osceola Train Depot, Nov. 2, 2014 in Osceola, Iowa. A Des Moines Register poll publised Saturday put Ernst seven points ahead of her opponent, Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA), three days before the election.
  • U.S. Senatorial candidate supporters vie for attention outside WSB TV station at the candidates final debate before the November 4 election in Atlanta, Georgia, Nov. 2, 2014.
  • Former Florida Governor and now Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist greets people as he visits the Greater Mt. Olive Baptist Church, where he encouraged people to vote on Nov. 2, 2014 in Delray Beach, Florida. Crist is facing off against incumbent Republican Governor Rick Scott in the Nov. 4, 2014 election.
  • U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) speaks at a campaign event with Governor Maggie Hassan at Nashua Community College, Nov. 2, 2014 in Nashua, New Hampshire. Shaheen is in a tight race against Scott Brown to hold onto the important senate seat going into election day on Tuesday.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama campaigns for U.S. Representative Gary Peters (D-MI), candidate for U.S. Senate, and former U.S. Representative Mark Schauer (D-MI), candidate for governor of Michigan, at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, Nov. 1, 2014.
  • McConnell campaign volunteer Kara Townsend of London, Ky. arranges balloons before a campaign event for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) at the Best Western Airport Expo on Nov. 1, 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky. The most recent Bluegrass Poll shows McConnell with a five point lead over Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.
  • U.S. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign staff and volunteers prepare for campaign rally for the Senator in Louisville, Kentucky, Nov. 1, 2014. McConnell is running against Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes.
  • A Kentucky voter wears various campaign buttons prior to an appearance by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton campaigning for Democratic Senate candidate and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes during a campaign rally at Northern Kentucky University, Nov. 1, 2014 in Highland Heights, Kentucky. Grimes remains locked in a tight race with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) with four days remaining before the nation’s midterm elections.
  • Former U.S. Secretrary of State Hillary Clinton greets voters during a campaign rally for Democratic Senate candidate and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes at Northern Kentucky University, Nov. 1, 2014 in Highland Heights, Kentucky. Grimes remains locked in a tight race with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) with four days remaining before the nation’s midterm elections.
  • Crowd members listen as U.S. President Barack Obama talks at a campaign event for the re-election of Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy while at Central High School in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Nov. 2, 2014.
  • GEORGETOWN, KY - NOVEMBER 1: A roll of campaign stickers is seen as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivers remarks during a campaign rally at the Scott County Courthouse on Nov. 1, 2014 in Georgetown, Kentucky. The most recent Bluegrass Poll shows McConnell with a five point lead over Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.
  • U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) (C) greets supporters during a fundraising event at the Electric Park Ballroom, Nov. 1, 2014 in Waterloo, Iowa. The campaign event, the 10th annual ‘Bruce, Blues & BBQ,’ was the third time Former President Bill Clinton has been in Iowa to support Braley during this election.
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivers remarks during a campaign rally at the Scott County Courthouse on Nov. 1, 2014 in Georgetown, Kentucky. The most recent Bluegrass Poll shows McConnell with a five point lead over Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.
  • U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) speaks with supporters at a campaign office on Nov. 1, 2014 in Little Rock, Arkansas. WIth less than a week to go before election day U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) is trailing republican candidate for senate, U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR).
  • Former Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire waves with his wife Gail Huff as they board a bus at his campaign headquarters in Manchester, N.H., Oct. 31, 2014 before starting a state wide bus tour. Brown is trying to unseat U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, (D-NH).
  • A woman yells at former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as she campaigns for Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, during a rally at the University of Maryland, Oct. 30, 2014, in College Park, Md. She was escorted out of the building by law enforcement officials.
  • Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C, at lectern) delivers remarks at a campaign rally for Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown (center, R) Democratic nominee for Maryland governor, at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md., Oct. 30, 2014.
  • Supporters react as President Barack Obama shakes hands during a campaign rally for gubernatorial candidate Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, on Oct. 30, 2014, in Portland, Maine.
  • Democratic candidate Andrew Romanoff talks to guests as leaving from the spanish language debates, Oct. 30, 2014 at the Univision Colorado studio in Denver, Colorado. U.S. Rep Mike Coffman and former Colorado Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff debated the issues in the first ever Spanish language debate in Colorado’s history. Coffman and Romanoff are both candidates to represent the Colorado’s 6th District in Congress.
  • Vice President Joe Biden, center, takes a selfie with members of the audience during a campaign event for Democrat Seth Moulton, a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, Oct. 29, 2014, in Lynn, Mass. Moulton, an Iraq War veteran, is in a tight race with Republican Richard Tisei for the 6th U.S. House district north of Boston.
  • North Carolina Republican U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis, left, leaves SMT, Inc., a sheet metal fabrication company in Raleigh, N.C., following a rally for voters, Oct. 29, 2014.
  • Terry Wood, center, and other workers at Campbellsville Apparel, a military garment manufacturer, listen to an appeal from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., in Campbellsville, Ky., Oct. 28, 2014, during the final week before the crucial midterm election that could shift the balance of power in Congress. McConnell, a 30-year incumbent, has tried to tie challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes to Democratic President Barack Obama and what Republicans have called his “war on coal.” Grimes has refused to acknowledge her vote for President Obama in the last election and Obama is deeply unpopular in the state.
  • Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn waves to the crowd as she takes the stage after being introduced at a rally encouraging early voting, Oct. 27, 2014, in Decatur, Ga.
  • Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter, right, speaks during a campaign stop as his grandfather, former President Jimmy Carter, from left, grandmother Rosalynn, and wife Kate, look on, Oct. 27, 2014, in Columbus, Ga.
  • Members of the audience cheer during a musical performance moments before Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn steps to the stage, Oct. 27, 2014, in Decatur, Ga.
  • Nya Skrine, 5, of Decatur, Ga., sits in her chair wearing a “I Will Vote” sticker while listening to a Democratic rally encouraging early voting before U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn steps to the stage, Oct. 27, 2014, in Decatur, Ga.
  • Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, center, gets a kiss from a supporter after he stepped of his bus during a brief campaign stop at Delevoe Park in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Oct. 25, 2014. Crist left the Republican Party while seeking a U.S. Senate seat in 2010 as an independent and his old partymates have never let him forget they weren’t happy with the decision, especially since he is now challenging Republican Rick Scott as a Democrat. Crist has been called a traitor, a liar and a political opportunist. But Crist says he can work with Republicans as a Democrat, and the incoming House speaker and Senate president say they too can put the past behind them.
  • Supporters shade themselves with campaign fliers as they wait to see first lady Michelle Obama at a campaign rally for U.S. Sen. Mark Udall in Denver on Oct. 23, 2014. Obama visited Denver in hopes of turning a difficult race in Udall’s favor. 
  • Former U.S. President Bill Clinton (L) embraces U.S. Senate Democratic candidate and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes backstage before speaking at a rally, Oct. 21, 2014 in Paducah, Ky.

of

Elections are getting bigger, louder, and more expensive. That’s a widely acknowledged fact when it comes to the presidential election cycle, but it even holds true for midterms. Compared to 2010, 2006, and so on down the line, this year’s campaign season was a time, money and energy suck of record-breaking proportions.

The 2014 congressional races alone cost a total of $3.67 billion according to the Center for Responsive Politics, including the $480 million that outside groups spent on particular races. And political actors are already bracing for a prolonged runoff and recount period following election day; the composition of the Senate (and the party affiliation of its majority leader) might not be a settled issue until the end of the year, or beyond.

All that cash and hard work doesn’t seem to have significantly altered the balanced of power between the two major parties. As in most prior midterm elections, the party of the sitting president is expected to do relatively poorly and the main opposition party is expected to do relatively well. Republicans will most likely gain seats in the House, and stand a decent shot of seizing control in the Senate.

So barring any major upsets, what become of this year’s blood, sweat, tears, and FEC filings? Mainly, they helped to fuel that breed of enormous spectacle which seems unique to American politics. The above photos offer a vivid showcase for that spectacle in its final days, as some of America’s most powerful political operatives raced ahead to the big climax on Election Day. Click through the above slideshow to relive the year’s bombast, tempestuousness, petty squabbles and soaring rhetoric. 

And then brace yourself for 2016.

Speak Out