Putting Campaign Spending Into Perspective

I don’t usually post things that have to do with politics. But, no matter what your politics, I’m guessing that you will agree with me thatpolitical candidate marketing has gone from being acceptably perturbing to unacceptably absurd. Since big numbers are hard to grasp for many of us who don’t deal with budgets with nine zero’s, I thought it might be interesting to compare what United States citizens currently spend to elect their leaders to what those same leaders actually spend to run parts of the U.S. government. I offer this quick comparison to help put things into perspective (sources are referenced in the links).

Total campaign and outside spending on the 2016 presidential election is projected to be somewhere between $ 5B and $10B. Campaign spending for the U.S. house and senate are paltry as compared with the big job, but congressional candidates have raised $ 444M in the house, and another $ 199M in the senate during 2016. At the state level, we can use the 2012 spending numbers to see that  spending on all gubernatorial campaigns was a total of $ 144 million.

Therefore, assuming a low end fund-raising projection of $ 6B for the presidency, the total amount of money required to elect our presidential, congressional and gubernatorial political leaders in 2016 will be at least $ 6B to $7B, and possibly as high as $ 10B.

The table below now compares this campaign spending with a few line items within the proposed 2017 United States budget as shown by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

2016 Campaign Spending

You might conclude that we spend too much on campaigns. Or, you might conclude that we spend too little or too much in some of the areas referenced. You might even conclude that we could fund another trip to the moon or to mars by finding a way to re-allocate campaign spending to NASA for a few cycles. Any way I look at it, quantifying the actual facts and comparing the numbers sure helps put things into perspective.

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