Were it not for the spending of conservative groups and super PACs such as Restore Our Future, President Barack Obama's margin of victory over GOP nominee Mitt Romney would have been even larger in several key battleground states, the treasurer of Restore Our Future said on CNN Friday.
"Imagine the headline on this story if 350,000 different votes in four states had been different," said Charlie Spies, who worked for Romney in 2008 and was a co-founder of the super PAC this cycle. "Then you'd be saying that (GOP strategist) Karl Rove is an evil genius and that Republican big money had bought the election."
Restore Our Future spent more than $100 million between the start of the year and mid-October, according to the group's final pre-election Federal Election Commission financial filing. It was primarily focused on television advertising supporting Romney's White House bid.
American Crossroads, a separate conservative super PAC backed by Rove, spent more than $70 million in the same period, with its efforts mostly directed at House and Senate races, as well as the defeat of Obama. Rove held a conference call with top donors on Wednesday to discuss the efforts of American Crossroads.
Spies said on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront" that he has "not had a single donor reach out to me or other co-founders of the group and say that they were upset about how we spent the money."
"I think everyone is disappointed because they thought our work was important and was something worth investing in," he said.
A report issued this week by the nonprofit political money-tracking group the Sunlight Foundation assessed the "return on investment" of a number of outside political groups: how many of the candidates they backed or opposed were elected or defeated. For Restore Our Future and the main pro-Obama super PAC, "their won/loss percentage will be obvious from the election results," the group wrote in a blog post.
Despite a spate of spending on both sides of the aisle, the presidency, House and Senate remained in the hands of the same parties as before the election.
Spies said "without us and the other outside groups, this would not have been a neck and neck election right through Election Day."
While Obama won in all the states CNN and other media outlets considered toss-ups between him and Romney, the margin in some was close. Obama won the key battleground of Ohio with approximately 103,000 votes out of 5.3 million cast. In Florida, where CNN has not yet projected a winner, Obama's edge as of Friday evening was 63,000 ballots out of 8.3 million cast.
But in the end, Obama ran a campaign in which "some of their tactics were very good," Spies said.
"They had a good ground game and they had very good targeting. And we as Republicans -- royal 'We' -- are going to have to figure out why that happened and try to match that, but that's probably a better function for political parties, and I think super PACs and c-4s are better at doing advertising," he added, citing other types of political groups.
As for Romney's post-election future?
"I think he can probably do whatever he wants to do, other than be president for the next four years," Spies said. "He's one of the great business leaders and I think he has a lot to say about the economy and I hope he keeps speaking about it."