A look at the development of outside spending and Super PAC spending in federal elections since 1990 shows that the big influence of outside funds commonly associated with American politics didn't become widespread until 2012.
Additionally, the size of outside spending took another step up with the 2020 election. In the cycle, outside money amounted up to almost 2.7 billion without counting party committees. The special fundraising style of Donald Trump in his reelection campaign might have contributed to the steep increase. Two Trump PACs are joint ventures of the Republican Party and the Trump campaign. The Super PAC Trump Make America Great Again Committee shelled out approximately $600 million in the election, more than the Republican National Committee. Trump Victory spent another $245 million.
Outside spending only picked up slightly during the 2008 election (first campaign of Barack Obama vs. John McCain) and didn’t become rampant until 2012 (Obama reelection campaign against Mitt Romney).