GOP groups take stock after $380 million loss

By BETH FOUHY | November 8, 2012 | 4:33 PM EST

FILE - In this Oct. 3, 2012 file photo, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney points to President Barack Obama during the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Denver. In the end, Obama won re-election exactly the way his campaign had predicted: running up big margins with women and minorities, mobilizing a sophisticated registration and get-out-the-vote operation and focusing narrowly on the battleground states that would determine the election. It wasn't always exciting, and it was hardly transformational. But it worked. Still, there were detours along the way, most notably Obama's dismal performance in the first debate, which gave Romney new life in the campaign.(AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican-leaning independent groups were supposed to be a key to victory for Mitt Romney. But they ended up being among the big losers of the presidential race, spending an eye-popping $380 million on ads to oust President Barack Obama only to come up short.

The groups were unleashed by a Supreme Court decision that allowed wealthy individuals and corporations to spend freely to influence elections.

The Republican losses from the top of the ticket on down is forcing the groups' leaders to re-examine their strategy and determine how best to spend their donors' money.

Among those feeling the sting of defeat are American Crossroads and its nonprofit arm, Crossroads GPS. They spent $180 million on ads to oust Obama.