Time to dole out the cash! Running for president of the United States might be one of the most expensive endeavors of the 21st century. Campaigns, parties and super PACs have raised $2.9 billion this year so far, and of that, more than $2 billion has been spent, according to the Federal Election Commission analysis of the first 15 months of the 2012 cycle (from January 2011 through March 2012).
The $2.9 billion is the combined total of what President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, the former GOP primary candidates, and campaigners for the House and the Senate have spent. It also includes super PAC and party committee funding. The largest portion of that money ($986.4 million) has been brought in by super PACs, who have spent $785 million of their haul so far, according to Political Ticker, CNN’s political blog.
Sounds like a lot, especially with five months to go. Let’s compare 2012 with 2008 and 2004:
2008: $5.3 billion was spent by candidates, political parties and interest groups on the presidential race and races in the House and the Senate. President Obama and his rival, Republican John McCain, spent more than $1 billion, which was a 24 percent increase over the 2004 campaign.
2004: $4.2 billion was spent by candidates, political parties and interest groups for the presidential race and races in the House and the Senate.
With candidates raising millions by the month (Romney’s campaign and allies raised $77 million in May) and with little regulation on campaign fundraising in place, the sky is the limit this election season. And the candidates have to invest a lot of time to secure that kind of funding. This bar graph, from The Atlantic, shows the massive increase in the number of fundraisers. We’ve covered this topic extensively on “The War Room.” Go to our Campaign Finance topic page to check out these stories: “Super PACs, scandal and reform” and “Secret money a big worry in presidential campaign.”
Projected costs for the 2012 election have ranged from $6 billion to $12 billion, but where is all the money going? For example, how much does a billboard cost? Or a TV spot? Television screens across the country are being flooded with political ads, and now, with a new ruling from the Federal Communications Commission, the public might have easier access to finding out how much their candidate or the candidate’s super PAC spends on these ads. But a lot of the costs are difficult to trace. Tonight, with Democratic strategist Donnie Fowler, we’ll further explore where the money goes.
If you’re curious about who is giving money to the super PACs, check out this interactive graphic from ProPublica. Play with it to find out who donated how much money to which super PAC. It also tells you how much the super PACs have raised. And you can view previous months, to see the running totals.
For a full comparative look at what was spent in 2008 versus what is being spent this year, go straight to the Federal Election Commission website, which has an interactive graphic of its own revealing how much the candidates raised in each state on both sides of the aisle.
And tonight on “The War Room” we will be diving into campaign finance and following the money trail with Norm Ornstein from the American Enterprise Institute, Monika Bauerlein, senior editor at Mother Jones, and Democratic strategist Donnie Fowler. Tune in at 9/8p only on Current TV. To join the discussion about these topics and more, check us out on Twitter and Facebook!