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Campaign financing refers to raising of funds with a goal of promoting political parties, candidates or policies during elections, party organization, party actions, ingenuities and reforms. Though most campaign expenditure is privately funded, public financing is accessible for succeeding presidential candidates of the United States in the general elections and primaries. Political campaigns have numerous spending responsibilities such as political checking, budget of travel of staff and candidates, and direct expenses of connecting with voters. The purposes and types of campaign expenditure depend mostly on the state.
In the United States, the campaign and the political action committee are suitable terms to classify the components that raise and spend funds for political commitments. Political science indicates that most donors provide aid to candidates or parties with whom they have an agreement; there is extensive insight that contributors accept favors in return (Samples 66). The 2012 election will be the main analysis of how campaign financing is processed, where money goes, and who makes donations.
However, before the analysis of a recent election it’s essential to recognize the strong connection between funds and politics in the United States from the moment we began holding general elections. In the early 1700s, white male landlords who were 21 years old and above were permitted to vote. In simple terms, it means in order to have a say, you had to have some money. Voting rights were introduced early in 1828 and the land possession mandate was largely opposed.
During the time period, elections were full of corruption whereby some voters were given bribes so that they could vote (Coil 33). The initial politician to run a campaign was Andrew Jackson. During the 1828 elections, his campaign staff raised funds and secured votes. He organized committees that would plan rallies and assist him to communicate with the voters in the masses. As a result, the voter turnout was very high due to Jackson’s strategy of lowering the costs for individuals to gain their vote.
When the civil war ended, numerous prosperous Americans realized that they could earn benefits by supporting the campaigns of various politicians. Rich and prosperous families at the time were notable and influential, like politicians. Meanwhile, the initial federal campaign finance legislation came about after civil war and it was passed in 1867 whereby the law prohibited government workers from asking contributions from Navy yard employees (Opensecrets.org n.p).
This promoted the campaigns of 1872 into greater heights since the politicians relied on their own finances and every rich democrat in New York donated $15,000 in order to promote the election. Ulysses Grant, one of the presidential candidate, received almost a quarter of his election campaign from a single contributor. Due to such large contributions coming from a limited number of supporters, it was clearly noted and expected that any elected official had to be wealthy (Samples 122).
Organizations, corporations and businesses soon got in on the action and this resulted in Teddy Roosevelt delivering an address influencing congress in 1905 to outlaw all corporate contributions and this measure was highly resisted by elected officials since they were obligated to the donors that assisted them get into office.
During his state of the union address in 1907, Roosevelt said that candidates who took public finance should limit contribution amounts and openly disclose their incomes. This may sound familiar since Roosevelt’s proposal is the system that exists today, though its implementation happened after 64 years. This proposal was enacted in 1971 when the Congress passed a legislation, which obliged every candidate to report contributions and expenses.
Another legislation was passed whereby it fixed up a Presidential Election Campaign Fund, funded by a voluntary check off box on earning tax returns that diverted one United States dollar from the treasury (Opensecrets.org n.p). This meant that candidates were provided with huge lump sums to cover spending connected to the general election, as far as they come to an agreement not to collect private contributions or use money contributed for primary contests.
Between 1972 and 1974, Watergate widely spread amid allegations that Richard Nixon spent large campaign donations for unlawful commitments. This influenced congress to amend the public finance regulations to limit private donations and provide main candidates with matching funds on slight contributions. This new law also set up the commission for Federal Election (Corrado 57).
The federal election commission set funds that every candidate had to agree to for the crucial protests. However, this brought cautiousness to candidates because they had to manage their funds carefully. For instance, in 1966 Bob Dole reached his expenditure limit before the summer convention of the party leaving him winded in the last weeks of primaries.
During 2000 election, George Bush took 67.6 Million US Dollars in general election public treasuries with accordance to the funds set by federal election commission. In 2004, Howard Dean and John Kerry also applied crucial public finance, whereby Dean sent an e-mail to his supporters requesting for their sanctifications (Coil 61).
Conversely, campaign financing has greatly modified the politics in the United States because it comprise wide benefits to citizens and the contenders. Campaigning has made it easier for voters to vote and easier for them to acquire information as politicians move from one location to another. Since most voters comprise a diversity of culture, race, gender, age, welfares and principles, voters should be able to select from a variety of contenders that correspond their own benefits and through campaigns, they are able to select the favorite candidate. Campaigns give the voters a true knowledge as well as satisfying their needs since they get educated on specific policies of each candidate (Corrado 57).
Campaigns act as a medium that facilitate the understanding of the public’s preferences in relation to the party, candidates, policies or proposed benefits. Through campaigning, the voters attain the qualities that can aid them during decision-making or during the election moment. The movement of politicians from one location to another promotes democracy because voters are given ample time to weigh the policies of diverse candidates before coming to a conclusion. Consequently, it creates access to information about the candidates thus making the decision clear and more transparent (Corrado 31).
However, campaign expenditure makes an important input to key characteristics of democratic life, such as public awareness, and does not destruct public participation or trust. Political parties and candidates sensibly use campaign expenditure to inform the public about policy inclinations of the candidates. Through contributing to the quantity and quality of public dialogue and through making political elites responsible to the governed, campaign expenditure creates political community.
Moreover, limitless campaign expenditure also acts as a boost for democracy. Therefore, campaign expenditure does not diminish effectiveness, involvement and trust, in contrast to what critics charge; instead, it increases public awareness of the candidates, across basically all groups in the population (Opensecrets.org n.p).
Campaign financing has brought a unique theory that funds are a necessary aid when delivering policies to the citizen or the public in general. Restricting the ability of a candidate to acquire money for collaborating with the public is a way of limiting the capacity to communicate. This means that individuals with a lot of funds have an uneven impact on the public discussion. (Corrado 57). The idea of campaign finance has solved this challenge by providing limits to the participants so that they can all be equal. Through the assistance of donors, candidates with low finances are able to deliver their policies to the public.
Private organizations understand this principle and realize that by assisting politicians, their individual intentions can be met. Campaign financing has enabled donors to assist politicians since it serves the personal agendas of the donor and candidate, though some critics have a belief that contributors see their donations as an investment that will benefit them in the future. For all the insufficiencies of candidates, campaign financing is meant to achieve several goals for the contenders (Samples 34).
All in all, candidates and political parties require funds for their electoral campaigns so that they can keep relations with their supporters, to pay their professional staff and to organize policy decisions. If a nation wants to have stable political parties and self-governing candidates, then it must be prepared to fund them. In particular, some studies examine the link between campaign spending and public trust, insights of effectiveness, levels of participation, electorally appropriate knowledge and attention paid to campaigns. In spite of the concerns of activists, campaign expenditure produces generally beneficial impacts to the candidates and to the voters (Samples 34).
The 2012 presidential election became the most expensive election in the American political history as it totaled 2.3 billion US dollars (Opensecrets.org). The tallies from the final campaign recorded by the commission of Federal Election comprised almost 86 million US dollars in fundraising for the losing Republican candidate Mitt Romney. President Barrack Obama and Mitt Romney raised almost 1 billion US dollars each and depended mostly on exterior groups that expended another one billion on the presidential race, increasing a stimulus for political experts and broadcasters all over United States and eliminating the early system that delivered taxpayer funds to candidates in interchange for keeping expenditure low (Samples 35).
The final surge brought the campaign’s total of Romney for the election to over 1 billion US dollars. On the other side, the ultimate expenditure and fundraising totals for the triumphant drive of President Barack Obama also summed up to 1 billion US dollars. Expenses on both parties are focused on media, strategy and research, salaries, administrative and lastly fundraising (Samples 35). Both campaigns mounted considerable fundraising bombardments to stoke expensive media advertisements clashes and ground battles spending the bulk of their money on media. Every presidential candidate raised and spent millions of dollars in the campaigns of 2012.
The last thrust of contribution comprised a massive late increase of 33 million US dollars in aids to political committees of pro-Romney from one billionaire, the owner of Las Vegas casino, Sheldon Adelson. Nevertheless, Sheldon provided Romney and other candidates from Republican a donation of 95 million US dollars during the 2012 election. According to Opensecrets.org, campaigns organizations of both Obama and Romney together with a slew of fantastic political action committees raised and spent high amounts of funds toward the long-expected milestone of 2 billion US dollars (Opensecrets.org n.p).
After Romney bitterly lost the election, his national funding chairperson acknowledged a fundraising victory whereby he stated that every dollar they raised was spent in the effort to elect Mitt Romney and the contribution made a successful history in Republican Party. Both campaigns already were totaling nearly one billion US dollars each in spending by the end of October before the general elections were held and fantastic political action committees assisting Romney and Obama had used over 500 million US dollars in media advertisements (Magleby 340).
The campaign of President Barrack Obama kept ample of its fundraising in-house, agitating to gather millions of small contribution at least 214.3 million US dollars. The campaign also deeply selected networks of powerful and wealthy groups which were referred as bundlers. The contribution from all the groups combined together, raised at least 180.1 million US dollars. Mitt Romney’s campaign at no time reached historic levels of fundraising but was comprised with powerful exterior spending groups (Magleby 340).
While the campaign contributed just 389 million US dollars, only a virtual small portion of 70.8 million US dollars raised from small contributors. The main contributors of Romney included Goldman surcs that provided Romney with a donation of 1 million US dollars during the last weeks, completing with almost 153 million US dollars for the complete campaign (Magleby 341). Bank of America offered one million US dollars of the last-gasp total and influential investor, Morgan Stanley, supported Romney with 911,305 US dollars.
Mitt Romney also had numerous wealthy donors who supported the Republican Party. Other major donors comprised the head of great oracle Corporation, Larry Ellison, who provided three million US dollars and the owner of Houston Texans, Robert McNair, who donated $1 million. Moreover, Ira Rennert who was the head of a big company in New York, the Renco Group, also contributed one million US dollars.
On the other hand, Barrack Obama also had major political action committee which contributed 15 million US dollars during the final weeks of the campaign. The committee was headed by a group of former aides in White House. The final haul of this committee accounted for almost 30 percent of roughly 78 million US dollars in donations during that election cycle. Other top donors comprised University of California which contributed 1.2 million US dollars.
Microsoft Corporation and Google Corporation contributed 814,645 and 801,770 US dollars respectively (Opensecrets.org n.p). In terms of states, California State was the main contributor to both presidential candidates. Obama got the highest contribution from this state than his opponent whereby he received a donation of 62.7 million US dollars while Romney got 41.2 million US dollars. Although small donors played a major impact during 2012 election, it remains extremely unusual for numerous Americans to support political candidates, and the growth of boundless contributions for exterior expenditure had further focused financial involvement in politics that year.
The sources of funds that fueled the 2012 presidential campaign reflected the same basic benefits that fed the funds of candidates in the 2008 presidential campaign. During 2012 campaigns, business interests accounted for almost 63 percent of all donations to all presidential candidates, with labor, ideological and other benefits making up the rest.
Out of all donors during 2012 campaign financing, Sheldon Adelson was the only influential private donor, swearing that he would provide more than one hundred million US dollars to the presidential candidates. Being the main contributor in 2012 presidential race, Sheldon also donated high amounts to political action committees backing numerous candidates of senate during the last weeks of the election (Opensecrets.org n.p).
He stated that by 2016 elections, he would double his 100 million US dollars investment and he has what it takes to do that. However, every candidate spent the funds with particular objectives and on different backgrounds. Since the commencement of the presidential campaign, self-governing groups had expended at least 524 million US dollars on television advertisements and other determinations requesting voters to elect or defeat candidates (Opensecrets.org n.p). The most active groups that expended funds were the super political action committees which could raise indefinite funds from individuals, labor unions and corporation.
Though these groups cannot lawfully be knotted to a candidate, numerous of the political action committees were controlled or advised by earlier associates and most of them spent much funds during the last twelve weeks. Restore Our Future, one of the super political action committees and created by former advisors to Mitt Romney, spent 142.6 million US dollars to criticize President Obama and promoting the campaigns of Romney.
Nonetheless, this amount was 33 percent of the total republican expenditure. Another major super political action committee of Mitt Romney was American crossroads. This committee was active in numerous congressional races during the midterm elections of 2010 and the senior adviser was Karl Rove (Opensecrets.org n.p). It spent 91.1 million US dollars on advertisements contrasting congressional Democrats and President Obama.
On the side of Obama, priorities USA action was one of the major political action committee. A former Obama white house aide, Bill Burton, headed it although this committee has not been active as its Republican colleagues. It spent 68.4 million US dollars to host advertisements that criticized Mitt Romney and it was 77 percent of the total Democratic expenditure (Magleby 339). In addition, Republic National committee was another major committee that acted like the party organization for the Republican Party. It raised and spent funds on behalf of its candidates nationwide with its chairperson Reince Priebus.
This committee spent 42.2 million US dollars on advertisements that criticized President Obama and this total expenditure did not comprise almost 21 million US dollars in advertising coordinated with the campaign of Mitt Romney or general party expenditure on other Republican candidates plus administrative costs. Other political action committees such as Service Employees International Union were a great supporter of President Obama and it spent about five million US dollars to host advertisements that supported Obama but at the same moment, it also distributed advertisements criticizing Mitt Romney (Magleby 339). Most of the funds from both sides was spent on advertisements which either supported the candidate or criticized the opponent with an aim to convince the voters.
Generally, the campaigns of president Barrack Obama highly depended on large contributors to promote a forceful ground game and ultimately received more than Romney. Republican opponent Mitt Romney extended his fundraising benefit as the campaign reached its climax. However, it was really outspent by his opponent and the big-donor-funded outside group such as Bill Graves who aided him with large amounts of funds (Magleby 342).
The donors were somehow similar since at both sides, they contributed larger donation to flood the frequencies in the last weeks. This is evident because during the final weeks, the committees from Romney’s side outspent Obama’s committee 292 million US dollars to 258 million US dollars according to reports on opensecret.org. The expenditure advantage of Mitt Romney broadened to 337 million US dollars from 279 million US dollars when taking into deliberation the super political action committees dedicated to the opponent, Obama. Inclusively, Restore Our Future, Romney’s super political action committee, outraised Obama’s committee, Priorities 154 million US dollars to 70 million US dollars. This depicted Mitt Romney as the major fundraiser during 2012 elections and it means by 2016 elections, he will automatically surpass the spending of last election (Opensecrets.org).
In overall, President Obama spent over 680 million US dollars personally while his national party of Democratic used more than 292 million dollars. On the other hand, Mitt Romney expended 433.2 million US dollars personally while Republican Party used over 380 million US dollars, though out of the overall expenditure, the outside spending of Romney totaled nearly 419 million US dollars (Opensecrets.org n.p).
During the entire course of 2012 election, the campaign of Romney, the joint Romney victory and the Republic National committee finished with 12.9 million US dollars still in the bank and a debt of only 1.2 million US dollars. In addition, the Romney campaign strained that the figure did not include invoices for the goods and services purchased during that election. Historically, the low debt figure and surplus cash could prompt queries about why Mitt Romney and the committees did not either spend extra, or transfer outstanding cash to other campaigns of Republican. While on the contrary, the campaign of President Obama together with the Democratic National Committee plus a pair of joint committees formed by two units, ended with 5.4 million US dollars in the bank and a debt of 7.2 million US dollars (Opensecrets.org)
In conclusion, campaign financing can be identified as one of the major necessities in politics of the United States. Basing from its history, Roosevelt proposal about introducing limits in campaigns spending is the main core of the current campaign financing. Campaign financing has brought several benefits in the United States because it has assisted candidates and political parties in their electoral campaigns. It has assisted them to keep connection with their supporters, paying their professional candidates and organizing policy decisions.
However, 2012 campaign financing was the historical election in the United States. Mitt Romney spent 1.2 billion US dollars while President Barrack Obama spent 1.1 billion US dollars. Most of the funds from both sides was spent on advertisements which either supported the candidate or criticized the opponent with an aim to convince the voters. According to the overall expenditure recorded during 2012 election, Romney from Republican Party was the most fundraiser. In general, opensecret.org gives us an insight that in 2016 election, the Republican Party presidential candidate will has a high possibility of being the leader in fundraising.
Coil, Suzanne M. Campaign Financing: Politics and the Power of Money. Brookfield: Millbrook Press, 1994.
Corrado, Anthony. The New Campaign Finance Sourcebook. Washington, D.C: Brookings Institution Press, 2005.
Magleby, David B. Financing the 2012 Election. Washington: Brookings Institution Press, 2014. Internet resource.
Opensecrets.org, ‘2012 Presidential Race | Opensecrets’. N.p., 2014. Web. 12 Dec. 2014.
Samples, John C. The Fallacy of Campaign Finance Reform. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006. Internet resource.
Sorauf, Frank J. inside Campaign Finance: Myths and Realities. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992.
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