Evaluate the role played by money in the united states presidential election - Essay Example

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As the first election to be conducted after the Citizens United Supreme Court Case, the 2012 elections broke all previous spending records and amplified significantly the role of the electoral power of special interests and wealthy individuals. Majority of Americans are now…
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Evaluate the role played by money in the united states presidential election
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Role of Money in US Presidential Elections Role of Money in US Presidential Elections As the first election to be conducted after the Citizens United Supreme Court Case, the 2012 elections broke all previous spending records and amplified significantly the role of the electoral power of special interests and wealthy individuals. Majority of Americans are now coming to believe that US political power as exercised by the executive is concentrated among a small fraction of the US electorate; the elite. Although, money has not been the total predictor of presidential campaign victory, it is vital in all steps required for any citizen to run in the elections, be it exploratory committees, securing nomination by a major party, and getting the campaign message across (Anschutz, 2013: p32). Increasing presidential election costs has made it more difficult for candidates to come up with threshold resources needed for them to be competitive at every stage. Therefore, as presidential election costs rise, there is shrinkage of the candidate pool, which narrows the spectrum of perspectives and views offered to Americans to just a few individuals with access to money and subsequent resources.
Spending in the modern presidential elections, in the US, rather than being dominated by contributions from average Americans, is now dominated by a minority of wealthy donors and special interests; who have the financial clout to ensure their preferred message is amplified (Anschutz, 2013: p37). These groups and individuals use their wealth in order to influence public policy, especially by funding candidates who share similar values to them. Since most of these groups and individuals are reliant on US economic and financial policies to generate more wealth, they have gained an outsized role in US elections as they fund candidates whose policies resonate with their goals. However, these issues arising from the dominance of “big money” in US presidential elections are not only theoretical. Research has proven that since the opinions held by wealthy American groups and individuals have different priorities, money allows for skewed public policies through dominance of elections (Anschutz, 2013: p38).
Americans aspiring to be president are today spending more time fundraising than ever before, which is necessary to keep up with their election rivals (Anschutz, 2013: p43). In addition, as with the backlash from ObamaCare, candidates who may offend special interest groups and wealthy individuals by deed or word face the risk of being outspent as the latter finance their rivals. This means that they have to raise and spend even more funds to compete in the elections. Also, incumbent presidents who are already serving interest groups fare better in the “big-money” system than the first time candidates seeking to unseat them whose policies the special interest groups and wealthy individuals are not familiar with (Anschutz, 2013: p43).
This outsized role played by money in US presidential elections came to the fore during the presidential primaries for the Republican Party in 2012. Huge cash gifts from PACs led to a seismic shift in the entire campaign, propelling Mitt Romney to the front of the race ahead of pre-race favorites (Anschutz, 2013: p45). The role that money plays in securing election victory was also highlighted during the 2012 presidential race, in which the top thirty two super PACs donated some $10 million each, which was more than what Mitt Romney and Barrack Obama got from the combined total of their small donors. In addition, almost 60% of funding from super PACs was only from 159 donors with close to 95% of funds raised by super PACs being from just 3,308 donors, which makes up 0.0011% of the entire American population (Anschutz, 2013: p45). From these figures, it can be deduced that the role of money in US presidential elections has grown increasingly attractive for special interest groups and wealthy individuals who are more confident that money will help get their preferred candidate elected.
Anschutz, A. V. (2013). Campaign financing in the United States: issues and laws. New York, Nova Science Publishers Read More
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