Campaigning for the top job in the White House is a long and grueling task, and each candidate requires big money to get their message felt in the hearts of the voting public. There’s no question that if a candidate is to stand a chance at becoming the next Commander-In-Chief, he or she needs the funds necessary to do so — and a lot of it. The real question lies at which political party holds the title for the biggest spender, and which party will be more likely to spend the most in the upcoming election.
So who does spend the most in their campaigns? Well, in order to come to any sort of coherent conclusion, one must look back in time and compare the spending trends of the parties, to gain at least some insight into what can be expected in the future.
In 1998, a year that didn't see a presidential election, the total cost of campaigning from every party was $1,618,936,265. 54% of this total spending belonged to the Republican Party, with 45% going to the Democrats, and the remainder being spent by third parties.
2 years later during the presidential election cycle, there was an expected leap in total spending due to the extra importance the presidential race added to the mix, but the percentages remained fairly the same.
Over the next 15 years, this trend of the Republicans narrowly, yet notably, beating out the Democrats in total spending would continue, with only a few exceptions.
In recent years
The two times in these subsequent years that the Democratic Party spent more than their Republican contemporaries, was during the presidential elections of 2004 and 2008. In both of these years, the percentage tides changed in the favor of the Democrats quite substantially. Despite this, in the years since, things have more or less reverted back to the aforementioned dynamic of Republican spending narrowly beating out Democratic spending.
Total amount of spending in both parties has also seen a substantial overall increase in recent years, with both parties answering the challenge for political supremacy by spending more. The presidential campaign of 2000 saw a total spending on political campaigns of $3,082,340,937, which had doubled 12 years later when in 2012 this number leaped to a staggering $6,285,557,223.
When analyzing the data, two things become patently clear: the sheer amount of spending from all parties has increased substantially, and the Republican Party has fairly consistently been the bigger spender of the two parties — if only marginally.
It’s important to note that the reasons for this occurring may be down to the political position the Republican Party has found itself in, in contrast to the Democratic Party, since 2008. They may have felt more inclined to spend more as a result of being unable to claim the White House, whereas the Democratic Party may have found spending more unnecessary due to their consistent political success.
We can probably expect the Republican party to come out on top with regards to spending — whether this translates to a tangible win, only time will tell — but more importantly: we can certainly expect to see colossal budgets coming from both parties.
- OpenSecrets, accessed 20 February 2016