The Kochs, who favor conservative and libertarian causes, aren't alone, of course. Billionaire Tom Steyer has reportedly committed $100 million to back environmentally-friendly candidates this fall. That's $50 million of his own money and $50 million generated from other donors.
But how much is that really? There are a number of metrics we could use; for example, you could buy 7.7 billion sheets of copy paper from Office Depot for the amount Steyer wants to spend on elections this fall, though Steyer probably wouldn't be happy about sacrificing all of those trees.
We figured we'd look at another metric: How many American households could have their entire income paid for a year with the amount Steyer and the Kochs want to spend on political campaigns? So we got Census data (median 2012 income per household, $55,030; median household size, 2.55) and figured it out.
We were also curious about how many households those investments could cover in each state. After all, the millions of dollars aren't being spread evenly around the country — they are spent in a handful of targeted states. So here's how many households in each state could have their entire annual incomes covered by the Kochs or Steyer, if all of the investment went into that state. (Based on the 2010-2012 average median household income.)
Steyer's $100 million
The Kochs' $290 million
If you were curious, we did the math in the other direction, too. For the median household income in the United States, you could buy one ad on one airing of the CW show "Vampire Diaries." Good luck winning that election.