How much does it cost to elect a US president? Around $1 billion, it seems. According to Reuters, this is the figure set to be spent on the presidential race between Democrat incumbent President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
Much of this will come from the controversial super PACS, groups that have unlimited spending and fundraising power so long as they do not coordinate with the official campaigns.
Read more about the rise of the super PACs at The Periscope Post.
The money race
The New York Times provided a guide to money raised by the Obama and Romney campaigns up to 31 March 2012. Obama ended March having raised $196,900,097 to Romney’s $87, 452,399 – although the Obama figures go back to 2008. According to the NYT, the incumbent did particularly well in urban and coastal areas, and “raised more in sub-$200 contributions than each Republican candidate’s overall total”.
Obama takes on GOP groups
“President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign filed a complaint the Federal Election Commission Tuesday demanding that Crossroads GPS, the well-funded Republican advocacy organization, disclose its donors,” reported Danny Yadron for The Wall Street Journal. The complaint, said Yadron, is part of an attempt by Democrats to limit GOP outside groups: “Crossroads GPS operates in tandem with American Crossroads, which does disclose its donors. Combined, the two plan to spend about $300 million to boost Republican candidates this election.” The Democrats have created their own Obama-supporting non-profit, similar to Crossroads, but this has failed to attract the same level of funding.
US super-rich have ‘unfair advantage’ in democratic process
“A tectonic shift occurred last week with news that casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife had dropped a $10 million donation into a super-PAC supporting Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney,” said a Philadelphia Inquirer editorial. Congress has failed to stem the rise of the “money wars” – and this is no good for democracy. “Contribution sizes must be limited to take away the unfair advantage that the rich have in the democratic process. In fact, the rich are on track to own the 2012 federal elections. Most candidates without wealthy patrons will be out of the mix. Voters’ choices will be limited to those candidates who are most beholden to a tiny group of the most influential donors.”
Money doesn’t make for an exciting campaign
The 2012 presidential race has so far fallen short of expectations, argued Maggie Haberman and Alexander Burns at Politico: “Dating to the beginning of the cycle, 2012 has unfolded so far as a grinding, joyless slog, falling short in every respect of the larger-than-life personalities and debates of the 2008 campaign.” The candidates may be spending big, but their ideas are small: “The Obama and Romney campaigns spend all day strafing each other on Twitter, all while decrying the campaign’s lack of serious ideas for a serious time. Yet at most junctures when they’ve had the opportunity to go big, they’ve chosen to go small.”