This election year, an estimated $14 billion has been sunk into presidential and congressional campaigns, setting a new record for political spending in the United States. This figure is more than double what candidates spent on the 2016 election, according to the nonpartisan group Center for Responsive Politics, which compiled the research. In fact, this election cycle will cost more than both previous elections combined.
For the presidential campaign alone, it is estimated that at least $6.6 was spent, with congressional races spending just over $7 billion. Much of the spending has come from Democrats, who have been fighting to dethrone Donald Trump from the presidency and regain control of the Senate. Democrats have spent nearly twice as much as their Republican counterparts in the recent elections.
Sarah Bryner, research director at the Center for Responsive Politics said that Liberals and Conservatives both have taken advantage of the Citizens United ruling to gain more funding.
“When Citizens United was decided 10 years ago, conservatives were the quickest to jump on the newly permissible outside groups as a way to facilitate huge donations. Now, liberal groups have more than made up the difference and are taking advantage of every opportunity available to get their message out,” Bryner said, according to Open Secrets.
CRP initially estimated that the elections would cost $10.8 billion, but changed it’s estimate in the final months of the election as fundraising increased. According to the new figures, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is on track to be the first candidate in US history to end up raising $1 billion in a single election cycle. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump’s campaign for reelection said that Trump raised over $950 million during the 2020 election. However, it is important to note that these totals do not include how much was raised by either the Democratic National Committee or the Republican National Committee.
Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, said that billion dollar candidates are a new phenomenon in American politics.
“Donors poured record amounts of money into the 2018 midterms, and 2020 appears to be a continuation of that trend — but magnified. Ten years ago, a billion-dollar presidential candidate would have been difficult to imagine. This cycle, we’re likely to see two.” Krumholz said, according to Open Secrets.
Seeing such a large sum of money being spent on what are essentially public relations campaigns for aristocrats, is leaving many people feeling like it was a waste of resources. $14 billion dollars would actually make a meaningful difference in a lot of lives. There are many people struggling from poverty, hunger, homelessness, and lack of access to healthcare. Obviously, such a large sum of money could put a serious dent in many of these problems. At the very least, it would surely make for a reasonable stimulus package, which is desperately needed by so many people right now.