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Graphic shows rising costs of U.S. elections since 2000.


Surging cost of U.S. elections

By Duncan Mil

February 17, 2020 - With three billionaires campaigning to be elected U.S. president, political parties and outside groups are likely to break previous spending records during the 2020 presidential race.

Billionaires, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, are spending record amounts in their bids to become the Democratic Party’s nominee to challenge President Donald Trump. In 2019, Forbes estimated Trump’s net worth to be $3.1 billion.

Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, is the 12th wealthiest person in the world, with a net worth estimated at $61.8 billion.

Since joining the presidential race on November 24, Bloomberg has spent an estimated $386 million on advertising alone, according to a tally by Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group. Steyer has raised more than $205 million and has spent $200 million to date. President Trump has raised $232 million and spent $138.2 million, according to Federal Election Commission data released on February 3, 2020.

In 2019, the Democratic-controlled House passed a package of reforms that included greater regulation for super-PACs and “dark money” nonprofits that don’t disclose donors. Still, it has stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Technically known as “independent expenditure-only committees,” super-PACs may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, then spend endless amounts to overtly advocate for or against political candidates. 

The 2020 election cycle is already on course to exceed the record $2.4 billion spent on the 2016 contest. Campaigns have reported raised almost $2.2 billion, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

PUBLISHED: 17/02/2020; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Associated Press