Campaign fundraising is setting unbelievable records, and it’s only getting worse

Campaign fundraising is setting unbelievable records, and it’s only getting worse

PoliticsSeptember 29, 2016 By Barret Black

Four years ago during the last presidential election cycle, the two main candidates raised a record setting $1.2 billion dollars. That was up from $970 million just four years before. This year, analysts predict that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will pull in more than $1.6 billion, more than any other election ever — something voters should absolutely be concerned about.

Right now, presidential frontrunner (depending on who you talk to, of course) Hillary Clinton is outspending Donald Trump 3 to 1. She can do so because she’s raised close to $520 million compared to Trump’s $210 million — a facet he often gloats about in relation to all the free press he’s garnering in the process.

What this means, based on data provided by Axo Finans, is that Clinton has a great chance of winning. And it has little to do with the platforms each of them stand on or how they pander to particular voter groups. Money, it seems, is one of the biggest factors candidates use to win, at least as far as history is concerned.

Over the last 10 election cycles, 7 of those who won spent the most money on campaigning.

And the trend continues to rise. In 2000, a year most of today’s voters at least remember being a part of, the republican party spent about $4.50 per vote, well over Al Gore’s $2.20. George Bush won (even though it’s still a highly contested and polarizing outcome).

Barrack Obama, the candidate in 2012 that raised a walloping $750 million, spent on average $14 for each vote. Republican competitor Mitt Romney came in around $7.50.

If this is a continuing trend, analysts predict Clinton may spend just over $16 per vote, five times as much as her husband Bill did in 1992 (inflation included) to win his first term in the White House.

These are all big numbers, bigger than what most voters consider when casting a vote come November. While it’s not to suggest that the wealthiest and most funded candidate is a shoe-in for election, it points to a larger trend in how companies / individuals look to money as the way to shift the government’s role in their own lives.

By comparison, Clinton has racked up close to $140 million in Super PAC Fundraising to Trump’s $40 million. Big business, it seems, is on Hillary’s side — especially considering that 80 percent of attack ad expenditures are geared towards Trump.

So is it time to take money out of politics yet? One could surmise, but good luck. Even the democratic socialist every woke millennial loved to support didn’t run on pennies and fumes. At the end of his race, Bernie Sanders raised $228 million, mostly from independent voters shelling out an average of $27 each. There has to be money in politics. It’s either that, or you get apathetic voters — much like we had in the ‘90s, with turnouts reaching record lows for younger demographics.

It's entertainment, after all. Hollywood can't make $2 million films and expect them to be blockbusters.

The easy solution is to say corporations can’t donate past a certain point. That there can be no greasing of any palms and independent councils can watch for conflicts of interest within a candidate’s presidential term. But to think that will ever happen is shortsighted. There are loopholes in everything, and corporations will easily find a way to sway a political power’s tendencies regardless.

It’s just not gonna happen.

What we can demand is more transparency in politics, watching over who donates what and if that particular company aligns with our own personal values. At the rate political races are going, there’s truly no end to what we’ll see as far as fundraising and political payouts are concerned. Our best bet is to pay close attention every four years and understand what’s going on to make the best possible outcome for future generations. Education is far more powerful than dollars.

Political runners can spend all the money they want to, but at the end of the day, the vote is still yours. Unless you’re a Gore supporter in the year 2000, that vote still counts for something. Even just a little bit.