Money in Elections

Written by Jessica Oakley, a Knox sophomore from Pearland, Texas.

During our second week of class in Election 2012!, Duane Oldfield, associate professor and chair of political science, talked to us about election finance.

Illustration: Money in elections

When comparing all money spent during the election years, the largest amount of spending is during presidential elections. This could seem obvious to some because the president is the head figure of the American government with the most amount of clout, so parties want to be able to be associated with the president.

In our class, we learned that every presidential election year, the spending increases. This year, it is estimated the spending will be around 6 billion dollars. Most years, the parties are fairly equal in the amount they raise; however, the Republicans usually do have a history of raising more money.

Professor Oldfield showed the class a graph illustrating how much candidates raised in the 2008 election. The graph shows how Barack Obama raised exponentially more money than John McCain.

It is clear that Obama has raised much more than (2012 Republican presidential nominee) Mitt Romney, although Romney is funded by more groups. Four out of the top five groups that donate to campaigns support Republican candidates.

The amount of money raised affects how much money can be spent.

In the 2008 election, Obama was the first presidential candidate since the 1970s to opt out of receiving the federal government’s (financial) help in the election.

If Obama had stuck with the grant, he could have only spent $130 million. But because he declined the grant, he was able to spend $800 million. This probably gave him a huge advantage toward the end of the campaign with television ads, etc.

In this election, both candidates have opted out of the grant the U.S. government gives. Even though it is not yet evident who will raise more money, I believe it is more likely to be Obama.

My reasoning behind this is: Because of the last election, I think Romney will be unable to outraise Obama because Romney targets extremely large contributions that only a select few can afford, while Obama gets small donations from a large amount of people.

It will be interesting to see the outcome of this battle, and who will raise more, and if the differences in the amounts raised are evident in the campaign.

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