INSTITUTE INDEX: Four years after Citizens United, the movement for reform is growing

An effort to overturn a Supreme Court decision loosening restrictions on money in politics is growing. (Photo by Seth Schneider via Flickr.)

Number of years ago this week the U.S. Supreme Court issued the Citizens United ruling allowing corporations, associations and unions to spend unlimited amounts in elections as long as they don't coordinate with a candidate, leading to a flood of spending by so-called "outside groups": 4

Amount that super PACs, tax-exempt nonprofits, and other outside groups spent during the 2012 election cycle: more than $1 billion

Amount of that spending accounted for by super PACs alone: $600 million

Factor by which the amount spent by outside groups in the 2012 election cycle exceeded the amount spent by them in the 2008 cycle: 3

Of the outside spending in the 2010 cycle, amount contributed by donors whose identities were not disclosed -- so-called "dark money": $135 million

Of the outside spending in the 2012 cycle, amount that was dark money: $300 million

In 2012 alone, amount contributed to super PACs by just 100 of the wealthiest people in the United States: $339,490,176

Factor by which spending by outside groups so far in the 2014 election cycle exceeds the amount spent in the entire 2006 cycle: 25

Factor by which outside spending by conservative groups exceeded outside spending by liberal groups in the 2012 election cycle: more than 2

In the 2012 cycle, number of U.S. House and Senate races where more money was spent by outside groups during the general election than by the candidates themselves: at least 36

Percent of Americans who say there is "too much money in politics": 75

Percent of Democrats who say that: 79

Percent of independents: 77

Of Republicans: 68

Percent of Americans who say there should be no limits on the amount spent in elections: 25

Rank of the Empowering Citizens Act -- legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) that would match small contributions in federal elections with public funds and prohibit candidate-specific super PACs -- among the most comprehensive campaign finance reform bills pending in Congress: 1

Percentage odds that the website gives the bill's chance of getting out of committee: 2

That it gives the bill's chance of passage: 0

Number of weeks that a group of activists led by Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig spent marching across New Hampshire earlier this month to make what they call Washington's "system of corruption" the central issue in the 2016 presidential primary: 2

Portion of the U.S. Senate, U.S. House and state legislatures needed to pass a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United that are now on record as backing the effort: 1/3

Of the 16 states that have passed a resolution to overturn Citizens United, number in the South: 1*

Number of cities, town and counties that have also endorsed the amendment: nearly 500

* West Virginia, which Facing South counts among 13 Southern states along with Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

(Click on figure to go to source.)