Romney, Obama in most expensive U.S. election yet

Oct 16, 2012 | News

By Sarah Rix

President Barack Obama in the Oval Office. COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

U.S. President Barack Obama faces Mitt Romney on Tuesday night in the second of three presidential debates. Both their political parties are making final decisions on where to direct resources as the campaign enters the home stretch.

The Nov. 6 election is one that brings in hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign donations from super PACs – organizations that spend more than $1,000 to influence the federal election – and individuals.

This has so far been the most expensive election to date and The Washington Post reports the candidates for both the Democratic and Republican parties are poised to spend more than $2 billion by the time voters hit the polls.

“Obama definitely had a spending advantage in 2008,” Ryan Hurl, assistant political science professor at the University of Toronto, told Humber News.

The gap between Obama and Romney doesn’t exist like it did with 2008 Republican nominee John McCain, Hurl said, with the result that we can expect a closer race this time around.

“Last election, the well-off were nearly as likely to vote for Obama as McCain,” Marc Hetherington, professor and American politics expert at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, told Humber News.

“I suspect that won’t be true in 2012,” he said.

Massachusetts governor and Republican nominee Mitt Romney. COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

In the weeks before the election, the parties are trying to show strength through donations. The Washington Post reports Obama’s campaign has primarily relied on donors giving $200 or less.

Romney, on the other hand, has raised his funds largely through individual donations of more than $2,000. He also has the advantage of Super PAC support. Nine have each donated more than $2 million in promotion of his run. The top Super PAC contribution totaled $40 million for the Romney campaign.

In comparison, Obama has four $2 million-plus Super PACs behind him with the largest contribution at $2.8 million.

*DATA SOURCE (as of Sept. 21, 2012)

But despite his large individual donor support, the figure sees Romney trailing Obama for the second month in a row.

On Monday, the Republican campaign released September numbers of $170.5 million in donations for the month. Reuters reports Obama raised $181 million in September and set a new fundraising record for the year.

*DATA SOURCE (as of Sept. 21, 2012)

On Romney’s website, he asked supporters to help build a winning campaign by raising funds needed for November.

In an email sent by the Obama campaign on Monday, the Republicans were said to be “plotting a big surge in negative ads.”

Voters can expect to continue to see these attack ads from both parties and in elections to come.

“I suspect both sides will spend relatively equal amounts of money, so it’s unlikely the late torrent of spending will have a huge impact,” said Hetherington, who adds television advertising and voter mobilization will be the two big, final expenditures.

“That said, it doesn’t take a huge impact in a close race when even small effects can change the outcome.”

*DATA SOURCE (as of Oct. 10, 2012)

“The notion that the Obama or Romney campaign is particularly vicious isn’t true,” said Hurl. “Negative advertising has always existed.”

Hetherington said political mudslinging on the airwaves has resulted in an increase in voting because “more people are voting against someone rather than for someone.”

In his email, Obama called the race “tied” and asked supporters to continue their donations before Wednesday’s final Federal Election Commission deadline. It is the last chance for the parties to prove their financial strength and hopefully encourage more voter support.