How Does Money Affect The U.S. Elections?


The 2016 election has heard a lot of talk
about campaign finance reform and the effect of money in politics. So, does money actually
influence elections? Well, to start, political expenditures have
changed dramatically over the past few elections. In 2000, outside spending on political campaigns
was roughly fifty million dollars. In 2012, it was more than one billion. So what changed?
Well, in January of 2010, the US Supreme Court ruled in a case known as “Citizens United”,
which basically allowed unlimited political spending by individuals and corporations.
The way this works is that although the law sets a limit on contributions directly to
a candidate, there is no limit to indirect candidate contributions. This is where the
commonly used term “Super PAC”, or “political action committee” comes in. In election
context, a Super PAC is an organization which takes in unlimited political donations, usually
in support of a specific candidate. Although they are not allowed to coordinate with the
candidate directly, this rule is clearly, and openly ineffective. This money is spent
on things like events, staff salaries, even health insurance, not unlike a business. But
generally, about 75% of funds go towards direct advertising: mail, radio, television and Internet
ads. So, what does it mean that candidates can
raise unlimited amounts of money? It means they can win elections. And this is distinctly
noticeable in regional elections, even moreso than with Presidential Elections. During the
2012 races in the U.S. House of Representatives, nearly every single winner had raised more
money than their opponent. However, the parallel between election performance
and campaign spending isn’t necessarily causing one or the other. Some economists
point out that successful candidates are not just good statesmen, they’re good politicians.
Those who already have more supporters will naturally raise more money, and voters can
be unsure of spending money on a weak candidate. One analysis by MIT economist Steven D. Levitt
found that raising campaign spending only had a marginal effect on final vote count. And perhaps tellingly, that same year in 2012,
each presidential campaign spent roughly 1 billion dollars each. But when the votes came
in, Obama won with only 51% of the vote against Romney’s 47%. But on the other hand, although popular candidates
may raise more money from their supporters, the majority of money in politics comes from
a very small pool of donors. In fact, according to The Center for Responsive Politics, less
than one quarter of one percent of the US population accounted for two-thirds of the
total amount of federal contributions in 2014. Moreover, only about 32,000 people, or just
one percent of one percent of the population, contributed a billion dollars, or nearly 30%
of the 2014 federal contributions. In the 2016 election, with the exception of Bernie
Sanders, all other candidates have actively sought the support of millionaires and billionaires
to fund their campaigns. Candidate Donald Trump is himself a billionaire. It is clear that there is a concentrated group
of people who are able to dictate which candidates will be better funded, especially within Congress.
But as was seen in the 2012 election, although Mitt Romney’s campaign outspent Obama’s
by about $175 million dollars, he still ended up losing. The real question about money in
politics, is what the one percent of one percent expect in return for their enormous contributions. Luckily, it doesn’t cost a lot of money
to have your voice heard, politically or otherwise. This episode is brought to you by Squarespace.
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at checkout, you’ll get an extra 10% off. Squarespace… you should. Super PACs have a huge role in political campaign
donations. For a deeper dive into about what they and how they actually work, check out
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Comments

  1. Large corporations basically run America by financing Presidential candidates who in return help them by implementing business friendly laws, cutting taxes .
    This practice has been followed from the time of Rockefeller,Carnegie and JP Mprgan who bought then presidential candidate William McKinley to keep socialist candidate William Jennings Bryan away.

  2. Bernie sanders is not bribed by millionaires and corporations unlike most of the other candidates like Hillary Clinton

  3. Money doesn't win elections. Do your research and know the FACTS, not how the media portrays them. If voters wanted to stay educated on the issues and platforms, no amount of money would matter.

  4. It's not just the super pacs. Both Barney Frank and Chris Dodd are working on Wall St. now. Senators get jobs with the corporations for passing business friendly legislation while in office.

  5. the only way Bernie Sanders could be accepted at all by the American public as an open socialist, is because there is a growing number of American fed up with the current economic/political system.

  6. If Soviet union had two communist parties which agreed on everything except for gay marriage, abortion and global warming Soviet union would have never collapsed.
    (Us system is basically just like that)both party are in the pocket of the rich.

  7. GO BERNIE!! the only true honest person running for president that refuses to take money from large corporations & billionaires and will work FOR the people!

  8. GO BERNIE!! the only true honest person running for president that refuses to take money from large corporations & billionaires and will work FOR the people!

  9. Test tube, do a video about how Malaysian government collects 10 billion USD on prime minister election campaign purely from donators.

  10. There is no proof that Donald Drumpf is a billionaire, and as John Oliver recently pointed out his net worth is more likely 150-250 million. TestTube should revise this episode.

  11. With the lies again. Trump hasn't taken any money from others only small donations from his website from regular people, and he has used less money than any other candidate so far.

  12. Testtube can you make a video on how the past American presidents have been effective,yes i know it would be difficult to comprehensively judge whether a president has been effective or not but you can look at some of the policies that some of the president had passed and dig up some data which may show how effective the policy was e.g. looking at how Obama managed the 2008 recession and how the Obama care affected American health care

  13. How about a "Who is Henry Kissinger?"
    I'm in my 40's and have heard his name all my life. How, or why is he still meeting with world leaders?

  14. Bernie Sanders is the most popular Senator in America with a staggering 83% approval rate. Even republicans like him. Bernie for president.

    source: http://morningconsult.com/2015/11/bernie-sanders-is-the-most-popular-senator-in-america/

  15. Money does not affect US politics it is US politics….

    To quote a recent episode of Chicago Fire "You run a dirty one, well, you might win an election, but you lose your soul. What's the point?" -Casey

  16. "What the 1% of the 1% expect in return of their contributions?"
    That's so naive to ask: US policy is made by a very efficient lobbying system. Americans decide on nothing.

  17. https://www.change.org/p/we-the-people-must-put-pressure-on-us-congress-and-us-mint-replace-us-1-dollar-bill-with-us-1-dollar-coin
    sign it and share it

  18. I don't buy the whole "unlimited campaign financing buys elections." The first thing to note is that campaign spending doesn't buy votes, it just allows you to tell above the din. The actual decision is still up to the voter themselves. I'm exposed to tons of ads, yet who I vote for is largely based off of substantive policy issues and research largely done by non-partisan or otherwise respectable institutes. If election ads really influence people that much and they aren't willing to think critically I think it says more about universal suffrage than anything. All campaign financing shows is that there are a lot of people who really shouldn't have the right to vote. Admittedly, I shy away from advocating a select group being able to vote because I lack any sort of reliable principle by which I can distinguish between those who ought to be able to vote and those who shouldn't.

    The second thing is that it's a new world. Social media and the internet makes it relatively cheap to compete with traditionally expensive forms of advertising- and generally dilutes the effects of Super PACs.

  19. "Even though Mitt's campaign spending was larger than Obama's, he lost." Except the people who voted for Mitt had already been brain-washed by their party which spends 250 million per year to generate the lies and fabrications repeated endlessly on FoxNews and the hate channels (O'Reilly, Limbaugh, ..). They literally don't know who or what they are voting for. That means the $billion spent during the campaign was just to reinforce the ignorance already created.

  20. "When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of our republic." -Ben Franklin

  21. So basically rich people and corporations decide the fate of the county. Hm… No wonder corporations and the rich get richer, while everyone else gets stepped on and stuck with the bill.

  22. If anyone is interested I did extensive survey of the money in politics literature in the video "The Truth About Money in Politics. Why Sanders and Progressives are Wrong on Campaign Finance Reform ".As the title suggest the concern is over blown.

    Also please watch to the end of the video. Near every objection people raise is addressed in the video.

  23. In Iowa I swear we get pounded with advertisements half a year before the primary in Iowa. It's the only thing I hate about living in Iowa.

  24. This is the exact reason why most politician are yet to be successful. politics isn't about spending money on campaign, all you need is a good spiritual backing. Chief Wole is the best of the best but if you don't ask for help you never get help

  25. The vid should HAVE specified what billionaire get in return.
    Oligarchy stole whatever thin democracy from under America's nose.

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