Tags: campaign | election | spending | money

Campaign Spending vs. Halloween Candy: Which is Greater?

By Monday, 01 December 2014 10:12 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Before and after last month's election, we heard a lot of gnashing of teeth about high campaign spending.

Evan Osnos in The New Yorker called 2014 the "money midterms," with a "staggering" $4 billion spent on elections, making 2014 "the most expensive midterms in history." Of course, that includes a lot more than just Congressional races. Every ballot carries smaller local races and perhaps some initiatives.

But is $4 billion a lot of money to spend in a two-year election cycle? According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, spending for Halloween (basically a one-night party) is estimated at $11.3 billion this year, or $125 per household. A shocking 74 percent of polled households said that they planned to spend money on Halloween. Did 74 percent contribute to a campaign — even though elections are vital to a democracy and Halloween isn't? The amount spent on campaigns amounts to less than $45 per household.

Here are some other things Americans spend more on each year than this year's midterm elections:

Cosmetic surgery                $7.0 billion
Laundry detergent              $5.9 billion
Pet grooming & boarding  $4.4 billion

Most pundits blame the Republicans, the "party of the rich," for the bulk of this spending. But Democrats have long enjoyed higher campaign contributions than the GOP has. Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard says, "Democrats are the Real Party of the Rich."

During the current election cycle, liberal and super-liberal Political Action Committees (PACs) outspent conservative and Republican PACs 3-2, or $270.5 million to $181.1 million, but this greater amount of spending obviously didn't buy them many votes.

That's because Big Money can't buy many "swing" votes. Americans are smarter than the pundits think. Economist Steve Levitt researched spending and found that if you double a candidate's spending, it will move the vote just 1 percent in their direction. In 2012, Karl Rove's American Crossroads spent $117 million, and 90 percent of his candidates lost.

If Big Money can buy elections, why aren't the super-rich winning? The rich candidates usually lose: Ross Perot (worth $3.5 billion), Donald Trump ($3.2 billion), Steve Forbes ($430 million), Mitt Romney ($220 million), John Kerry ($193 million) and Al Gore ($100 million).

When you consider the budget deficits under President Obama have averaged more than $1 trillion per year, then $4 billion is not too much to invest in the future solvency of our nation's state and federal governments.

About the Author: Mike Fuljenz
Mike Fuljenz is a member of the Moneynews Financial Brain Trust. Click Here to read more of his articles. He is also the editor of the NLG award-winning Michael Fuljenz Metals Market Weekly Report.

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Before and after last month's election, we heard a lot of gnashing of teeth about high campaign spending.
campaign, election, spending, money
Monday, 01 December 2014 10:12 AM
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