"There's too much money in politics."
When fundraising for WBA's Alliance of Bankers for Wisconsin conduit or Wisbankpac, that's a refrain I hear often. And if you are among those who think that, you're not alone. According to a New York Times/CBS News poll released in 2014, 84% of respondents believe money has too much influence in political campaigns. In the same poll, 39% want to see fundamental changes to the campaign finance system while 46% want it to be completely rebuilt.
So how much money do we spend? During the 2018 Congressional campaign—the costliest in history—an estimated $5 billion was spent. Combining the Congressional races with the Presidential campaign in 2016 tallies at $6.5 billion. That's certainly a lot of money.
Closer to home, spending on Wisconsin legislative races in 2018 increased 27% from 2016. During this last cycle, $36 million was spent on convincing you who to vote for, compared to $28 million in 2016 and $17 million in 2014. The highest-spending legislative race in 2018 (at $4.5 million) was the 17th Senate District where Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) won re-election. Four other State Senate races topped $1 million.
Of the $36 million spent on Wisconsin races in 2018, $12.2 million was spent by outside groups supporting one side or the other. At the top of the list was the liberal Greater Wisconsin Committee ($3.8 million) followed by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce ($2.1 million).
Any time you're throwing billions and millions around, you certainly must pay attention. However, based on the stakes of every election, we might not be spending enough. At least, compared to some other parts of life where Americans spend money. Here are a few examples:
- During the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, an estimated $8.5 billion will be wagered in office pools and sportsbooks.
- Halloween 2017 saw Americans spend more than $9 billion on costumes, candy, and other holiday treats.
- Americans certainly love their pets. The American Pet Products Association estimated we spent $6.2 billion on grooming and boarding alone in 2017. Pet food was another $29.1 billion.
Each election can bring change that will last a generation. Compared to what we spend on everything else in our lives, supporting candidates for office that you feel will do the best job representing you is a small price to pay.
If you'd like to skip one of those extra trips to the coffee shop once a week and donate that money to one of WBA's political funds, feel free to contact me to find out how you can get involved!