Popular vote 2012, Election 2012, voting results: American Crossroads defends campaign spending

(CNN) -- Officials from the Republican super PAC American Crossroads, including its co-founder Karl Rove, defended their campaign spending and talked about the group's future during a conference call Thursday with 50 of its top donors.

Participants agreed they would not discuss the contents of the call with the media.

American Crossroads and its affiliate, Crossroads GPS, aired tens of millions of dollars worth of television ads aimed at defeating President Barack Obama as well as wresting control of the Senate from Democrats by going after incumbents and challengers in key races.

The two groups exceeded their fund-raising goal of $300 million for this election cycle.

Among those on the call was broadcast executive Stanley Hubbard, who refused to discuss what was said during it except to say "it was very friendly. I didn't hear any negative feedback or comments."

The Sunlight Foundation, a non-profit organization which tracks the influence of money on politics and works to make government more transparent, released an analysis Thursday questioning the effectiveness of American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS this campaign.

Using available data, the Sunlight Foundation said of the $103.5 million American Crossroads spent in the general election, 1.29% of it ended in the desired result. None of the candidates American Crossroads supported won, and most of the candidates it opposed were victorious.

Crossroads GPS, which does not have to disclose its donors, spent $70 million during the general election with 14.4% of it having the result it wanted, according to Sunlight Foundation's analysis. None of the candidates GPS supported won.

Obama's defeat and the Republicans gaining control of the Senate were major aims for these groups and their contributors -- and neither one was accomplished.

Following Election Day, officials from Crossroads have worked to soothe the concerns of large and small donors through phone calls and other communications.

"Donors have questions globally about what worked and didn't, and while all are disappointed with Tuesday's results, most have expressed a strong interest in our continuity and support for new efforts in 2014," American Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio told CNN.

Democrats, who at the start of the campaign were worried they would be far out-spent by Republican super PACs and other independent groups, have been eager to raise questions about their record following the election. For its part, Crossroads officials said they still had a major impact and kept Republicans competitive.

"Democrats leveraged their incumbency to dramatically out-raise and outspend their Republican opponents this cycle, and Republican outside groups balanced that spending out to keep this a two point race all the way to the end," Collegio said.

Rove also defended the super PACs' effectiveness. He pointed out in an interview with Fox News, where he is a political analyst, that American Crossroads was quicker to come to Mitt Romney's defense when the attacks on his business career first began.

"The first group to respond to the attacks on Bain, on Bain Capital, were not the Romney campaign. It was American Crossroads with an ad in July," Rove said.

One major Republican fund-raiser, who was not involved with the major super PACs and related groups involved in the presidential campaign this year, and who requested anonymity to speak freely, told CNN "you have to look at how effectively" the groups operated.

The fundraiser said if he were a donor to a Republican super PAC, "I'd question the return on their investment."

As to whether he thinks his donations were a waste, Stanley Hubbard told CNN "I think when you are helping in the democratic process it is never a waste."

With the election now over, American Crossroads is preparing to engage in the next battle to hit Washington: what to do about the fiscal cliff of major spending cuts and expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts that will hit at the end of the year unless there is action by Congress and the president.

Republican outside groups spent twice what Mitt Romney did on advertising in battleground states this campaign -- $411 million to $180 million.
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