The $7B fight to buy the presidential election

The $7B fight to buy the presidential election

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WASHINGTON — The 2012 presidential election was the most costly in history — but what did it buy?

Officials from the Federal Election Commission recently reported that the 2012 presidential election cost nearly $7 billion — reflecting spending by candidates, parties and outside groups.

That's expensive: "Like, twenty-eight Boeing 787s expensive. Or seventy private islands expensive. Or 50 billion polio vaccines expensive," said CNN's Kevin Liptak.

According to the FEC's breakdown, candidates spent $3.2 billion in 2012, Republicans and Democrats spent $2 billion, and outside groups (including super PACs) spent $2 billion.

Despite it being the most expensive election in history, FEC chairwoman Ellen Weintraub said she wasn't caught off guard by the number: "That's not really unusual. They're all record breaking," she said.

What does all that money really buy?

According to Richard Davis of the Deseret News, "Politicians often claim the money buys nothing; public servants owe nothing to the groups that give them money." But Davis continues by quoting former Rep. Barney Frank, who once admitted that's not true.

Deseret News:

"If that were the case, we'd be the only human beings in the history of the world who on a regular basis took significant amounts of money from perfect strangers and made sure that it had no effect on our behavior," Frank said.

Statistics show that fundraising plays a big role in getting a candidate elected to public office. According to Charles Bryant, "This doesn't mean that the person who raises and spends the most wins every time, but it's close. In the 2004 general elections, 95 percent of House races and 91 percent of Senate races were won by the candidate who spent the most on his campaign."

With these types of results, it is easy to see why so many politicians worry about fundraising and the amount he or she spends on a campaign. It also may explain why we see election spending increase each cycle.

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