January 31, 2024

Is the Money Voting for us Before we Reach the Polls?

“I’ll just say it. Biden is too old and Congress is the most exclusive nursing home in America,” Nikki Haley said.

Another commercial for a presidential candidate played on the television. I rolled my eyes at the screen.

I was trying to catch the local weather ahead of a winter storm, but it seemed political campaign ads had taken over prime time television.

My annoyance grew as I anticipated the weather person appearing on the screen only to be greeted with another commercial ahead of the impending primary election.

Watching these ads didn’t leave me feeling educated on the platforms or initiatives. These commercials have transformed over the years to bash or poke fun at the competition. It seemed like a waste of resources to me, namely money.

I couldn’t help but wonder what an ad spot during prime time viewing cost these days. In doing some research, I discovered campaign finance laws were reformed between the years 2002-2010. The outcome was that political campaigns no longer relied on public monies. The money is now unlimited.

Unlimited funding sounds like it should lead to more informed viewers and voters. Unfortunately, it’s had the opposite effect. Unleveling the financial playing field means the cost for candidates to get in front of voters has become expensive. According to Open Secrets, a nonprofit organization, the 2020 election cost $14.4 billion.

“Politics has become so expensive it takes a lot of money to even be defeated.” ~ Will Rogers

Candidates who can’t raise billions of dollars remain unknowns to the American people leading to less informed voting overall.

A vicious cycle is created with contributions from corporations, labor unions, and wealthy individuals going mostly toward candidates who are already well-known to voters. These funds afford popular candidates even more advertising and marketing while lesser known candidates struggle to raise the funds needed to get any amount of face time with potential voters.

Not placing a cap on political campaign funding has a huge impact on the level of connection between us and potential candidates. Voters are unlikely to cast a ballot for an unfamiliar face and name. Short of conducting independent research, many people who do vote in the primaries are only familiar with the popular candidates they’ve seen on television. Candidates who can’t compete with the billion-dollar price tag to run fell victim to financial discrimination.

Even though the projected cost of political ads meant to inspire people to vote is estimated to total $15.9 billion as reported by GroupM, one of the world’s largest paid advertising agencies, voter apathy remains. Despite this being the most money ever spent on marketing before a presidential election, it is predicted roughly 40-50 percent of the population will not cast a vote in the election.

As results from primary elections are released, the race for presidency is quickly being whittled down. It seems we may be faced with the same two choices for president as the 2020 election.

The campaign money voted for us before we even got to the polls.

~

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