When it comes to elections, living in a swing state is a markedly double-edged blade.
On the one hand the fact that one’s vote might actually matter is pretty nice, at the least its motivation to participate. But that said being granted a vote ‘that matters’ has an extreme setback…
Politicians know you have it.
For while campaign season certainly brings an onslaught of advertising upon us all the fighting is always thickest in swing states like Ohio, Colorado, North Carolina, and of course Florida.
In these states its wholly common to be treated to entire commercial breaks of back to back political advertisements augmenting several cold calls a day; let alone traditional forms of spreading the word like signs and posters. Politicians are willing to shell out to get those votes.
And shell out they do; for American political spending has not only steadily skyrocketed year in and year it’s also becoming empirically crucial to winning
Wait… How Much?!
US elections have seen a painful trend of one-upmanship when it comes to the sheer quantity of cash thrown into the fray by the competing parties and interests, and if this most recent Congressional race is any indication, things are going to get *much* worse.
The final price tag for the 2016 election, for example, was $6.5 billion for the presidential and congressional elections combined, according to campaign finance watchdog OpenSecrets.org.
The presidential contest — primaries and all — accounted for $2.4 billion with the other $4 billion or so going to congressional races. The tally includes spending by campaigns, party committees and outside sources like PACS.
It should go without saying that 6.5 BILLION dollars is an absolutely absurd price-tag for a nationwide popularity contest; an election mind you we’d successfully complete had candidates spent $0.
Worse, the 2018 congressional race looks set to accelerate the trend with spending set to total out drastically increased over previous congressional races.
Really the crux of the issue comes down to the inescapable fact that elections don’t require outside spending to be successful, that spending is only for certain candidates to be successful – or not as Clinton found out after spending $768 million alone. If there was drastically less spending Americans would still end up at the polls and in fact, might select representation that’s actually not embarrassingly unpopular like Congress has been for decades.
That 6.5 Billion in spending, let alone the Billions (if not Trillions inflation-adjusted) spent in the aggregate is pretty much the most useless way to spend that money possible… or is it?
Does it Work?
While insane US political spending hardly does much to benefit filthy peasants like you and me, it admittedly does a hell of a lot for the candidate’s chances of winning. While Hillary metaphorically (and perhaps literally) shat the bed in 2016 despite outspending her competition 2 to 1 the data says she was on the right track.
Opensecrets, the same election spending watchdog, quantifies who wins with what money and the tale they tell is rather dire. Senate Candidates that outspend their opponents see an absurd ~80% chance of victory. In the House, that outlook jumps to ~90%. Gross.
So, when it comes to spending politicians aren’t torturing us with endless crappy ads and spending insane amounts of our money for nothing; they know money is how one wins an election in modern America. So why can’t we change that?
Well… we could, but monied interests aren’t a huge fan of the idea so unremarkably there hasn’t been much traction within the US to follow the many ways the rest of the world limits the inefficiencies of political spending; be it the UK setting a cap or Germany strictly allowing one 90 second ad per party on the television.
The point is the means of ending the circus of spending in the US are available to us, we just need to use some of them; before ‘elections’ becomes the biggest sector of our economy…