The $6 Billion Election

It’s 2004 all over again.

In 2004, a ho hum group of democrats did their best to make the primaries interesting. John Edwards had the million dollar smile. Howard Dean looked like a contender. And John Kerry sat in the wings.

The democrats knew they had little chance of beating Bush. His popularity was reaching its pinnacle. The American people loved how he handled the months immediately following the terrorist attacks and we were just getting into 2 wars in retaliation. (Though most seem to have forgotten that.)

There was a 3 way race of pretty viable-looking “plan B” candidates. (Who were just good enough to be believable but not quite the party’s best.) The media made a good story out of Edwards vs. Kerry, Kerry won out. In the end it was a boring lead-up to a relatively easy win for Bush.

But the democrats played along and everyone was happy.

2012 has a problem.

The republicans haven’t played along. Their pool of 4-5 people in the primaries aren’t believable enough for the general population to become interested. We all know it’s Romney. He just has to keep his mouth shut and keep smiling while the rest of the “plan C” and a couple of “plan D” folks take turns lining up and falling apart.

The primaries aren’t interesting to the general public. Only 5.4% of eligible Iowa voters showed up to last week’s Iowa caucuses.

So what’s the problem? There are 6 billion of them.

Way back in August 2011 Reuters published a story which shows just why the media is trying so hard to make this year’s field of republicans look interesting.

The U.S. elections will be the most expensive ever, with a total price tag of $6 billion or even more, fueled by millions of dollars in unrestricted donations as Republicans and Democrats vie for control of the White House, Congress and state governments.

“It’s safe to say that, given that we had a $5 billion cycle in 2008, it will certainly be more than that and very likely over $6 billion, which is just an astonishing growth rate,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign spending.

The cost of the election is surprising given that only the Republican Party is holding presidential primaries, unlike in 2008 when both parties had expensive contests to find a candidate.


For a struggling news industry that’s a whole lot of ad buys. Newspaper ads, television ads, magazine ads, online ads… everyone needs a slice of that $6 billion pie to make their budget and make Wall Street happy. Not to mention that’s a lot of money for staff, travel, hotels, greasing palms, etc.

But they won’t spend that much money if Americans get bored. 

This is why the news organizations are so desperate to find a story. Because if you get bored with this primary season they stop getting paid.

My take? I’ll vote for the party who takes their slice of that Super-PAC pie and donates it to a charity. 





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