Iowa Gets the Candidates but Not the Campaign Money

Thursday, 08 Dec 2011 12:10 PM

By Greg McDonald

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Iowa may have the honor of hosting the first-in-the-nation vote in presidential election years, but most of the money spent by the candidates so far in the 2012 campaign has ended up in other states.

A review by the Des Moines Register of campaign spending by the Republican candidates has found that less than 5 percent of the $55.8 million spent can be found in the pockets of Iowa businesses and individuals.

“There’s a mythology that does exist nationally that there’s this enormous financial windfall for the state of Iowa because of the caucuses,” Iowa Republican Party Chairman Matt Strawn told the Register on Wednesday. “But the true windfall for Iowa is in the prestige of hosting the caucuses.”

As it turns out, most of the campaign money spent over the past nine months has gone to Virginia, Texas, Minnesota, and Massachusetts – primarily because many candidates are laying out more expenditures in their home states for base operations. New York and the District of Columbia have also collected big campaign expenditures because that’s where many of the candidates’ political consultants and advertising operations are based.

“You get a tremendous amount of spending out in the world on behalf of what’s going on here in Iowa, but not a lot of direct spending here in Iowa,” Iowa State University economist David Swenson said in an interview with the Register. “What happens is, we confuse the appearance of electioneering activity in Iowa with the economics of electioneering,” Swenson said.

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