Amid talk of 2012 being the most expensive election ever, nagging doubts linger. Was this election decided by the richest and most privileged citizens of this country? Did the results turn on the mega-money of the few who had the resources to contribute a million dollars or more to their preferred candidate? There were very public contributions made by the Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson and his wife, for example, who gave a combined $10 million to the Romney super PAC Restore our Future. Then there’s the story of GOP super-supporter David Koch and his brother Charles, energy industry billionaires who talked about plans to spend close to $400 million in the 2012 election cycle as an expression of their right to free speech.
Where is the place of the ordinary citizen who does not have this kind of money but still wants to actively participate in elections? Do their hundreds count against the millions of big spenders like the Adelsons and Kochs? Or should they just give up and leave the funding up to the millionaires because their money won’t count for much, anyway?
Financesonline.com recently released an infographic analysing the many facets of presidential campaign finances in the just concluded presidential elections. Some peg the total cost of the 2012 exercise at US$ 6 billion of which more than a quarter was spent on the presidential race. One immediately apparent trend is that the last four elections have been won by candidates with bigger campaign receipts.
Other issues tracked by the infographic include:
Month-on-month management of finances by both camps. Despite the fact that Obama consistently spent more for every monthly period tracked, the Obama coffers were always more liquid throughout the months leading up to Nov. 6.
A look at the individual contributions picture shows Obama getting heavier support from “small” contributors.
SuperPAC money. A side-by-side view of Priorities USA Action and Restore Our Future, the two biggest SuperPACs supporting Obama and Romney, respectively. Romney leads Obama here by a wide margin. This section also identifies the biggest contributors to both.
Leadership PACs. A snapshot of money circulating at the local political levels. In swing states with a large number of undecided voters, leadership PACs knocking door-to-door may have been responsible for convincing them to go out and vote.
The infographic also features interesting side stories of controversies that surfaced during past presidential elections. As early as the year 2000, unlimited soft money emerged as an issue, which remains contentious up to this time. The biggest funding story, of course, is the unlimited outside spending that resulted from exploiting loopholes in the landmark Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission case.
You might be one of those who texted in your individual $10 contribution, or made a personal statement of your political beliefs by supporting your candidate through the usual donation channels. You need to know who you’re up against. You need to know who’s moving big money to get candidates elected. After all, 10 dollars or 10 million, we all get one vote each.
Many questions need to be asked, different voices need to be heard. Should we revise campaign funding regulations? Should loopholes to unlimited spending be closed? Should we allow the richest 1% and their millions to speak louder than the 99%? Visit financesonline.com’s infographic page -- Elections 2012: Is It All about The Money? -- and let us know what you think.