Commentary: War of Money in the Presidential Election

This year finds the GOP spending more money than ever, and Obama’s busy looking for former donors to come through.

Posted: 06/05/2012 06:44 PM EDT

Like it or not, it’s a fact of American politics that a candidate needs money to get into office.

The average U.S. Senate race costs between $4 million and $7 million, while the average U.S. House race costs between $2 million to $6 million. In presidential races, the stakes are even higher. President Obama had a record-breaking race in 2008, when he spent nearly $750 million to take the White House.

Four years later, Republicans are madder than ever at Obama, and their resolve to make him a one-term president is higher than ever. That passion, it turns out, will be matched only by their bank account. According to a recent article from Politico, Republican groups fighting for control of the Oval Office and Congress this year will spend $1 billion, a record amount. Politico’s Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei write:

That total includes previously undisclosed plans for newly aggressive spending by the Koch brothers, who are steering funding to build sophisticated, county-by-county operations in key states. POLITICO has learned that Koch-related organizations plan to spend about $400 million ahead of the 2012 elections — twice what they had been expected to commit.

Just the spending linked to the Koch network is more than the $370 million that John McCain raised for his entire presidential campaign four years ago. And the $1 billion total surpasses the $750 million that Barack Obama, one of the most prolific fundraisers ever, collected for his 2008 campaign.

It’s bad enough the GOP is holding nothing back when it comes to spending in this election, but it gets even worse when you consider this frightening statistic: “[Eighty-eight percent] of the people who gave $200 or more [to Obama] in 2008 — 537,806 people — have not yet given that sum this year. And this drop-off isn’t simply an artifact of timing. A full 87 percent of the people who gave $200 — the sum that triggers an itemized report to the Federal Elections Commission — through April of 2008, 182,078 people, had not contributed by the end of last month.”

It’s not just that the GOP is raising and spending money wildly; it’s that Obama’s former donors aren’t coming out nearly as much as they did four years ago.

There’s still a lot of time to go before November, of course, and Obama will almost certainly get a lot of donations in the months ahead. But if you’re an Obama supporter, it’s time to start considering whether you’d like to put your money where your mouth is if you can afford it. The Republicans sure can, and they’re not going to be modest with their checkbooks.


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(Photo: EPA/JUSTIN LANE/Landov; Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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