Campaigning in the Twenty-first Century

Dennis W. Johnson George Washington University Washington, D.C.

Sixtieth Annual Conference Political Studies Association 29 March – 1 April 2010 Edinburgh, UK

Copyright PSA 2010

it had begun to take root. a period of rapid change in technology. They should be decided by the American people. in how citizens interacted with candidates and campaigns. I ask for your help. the fundamental changes began in the 1996 presidential campaign. executive director. State of the Union Address. This simple episode marks a milestone in the history of professional campaigning. and telephone calls. many of the tried-and-true practices employed in twentieth-century campaigns are still valuable tools. The 1996 presidential contest was dominated by what we might call a Twentieth Century campaigning model: television advertising was the principal medium of communication. amounting to little more than bulletin boards of campaign promises and statements. This Twentieth Century model of professional campaigning evolved over the years.2 We’ve marveled for years at the cost of elections. During the election cycles thereafter. direct mail. But they attracted attention and soon became valuable communication tools. Neither the Dole-Kemp nor the Clinton-Gore campaign website was very sophisticated. but [2008] is the first to cross the $5 billion mark. or worse. even fundamental changes during the past decade.” but the next day there were well over 2 million hits on the campaign website. I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests. all orchestrated by political consultants who embraced a top-down. in online communication. and perhaps fundamentally. January 27. just tap into my home page. During the first of three fairly unremarkable debates between incumbent president Bill Clinton and his challenger former senator Robert Dole.” Dole bungled the URL address. command-and-control approach to strategy and decision making. 2010 Professional political campaigning has undergone dramatic. At the same time. We were about to enter the era of Twentyfirst Century campaigning. Starting in 1996. and by the 1964 or 1968 presidential campaigns. especially during presidential cycles. Successful consultants and campaign strategists have been able to adapt to these changes. along with radio advertising. forgetting the “dot” before “org. --Barack Obama. “I ask for your support.DoleKemp96org. we were about to enter a new era. In the American context. scholars and election Copyright PSA 2010 . Center for Responsive Politics (2008) With all due deference to separation of powers. last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests--including foreign corporations--to spend without limit in our elections. the latter did what no other major party candidate for the presidency had done before him: he invited the millions of listeners and viewers to find out more about his campaign and to participate in his efforts by logging onto his campaign website. And if you really want to get involved. www. --Sheila Krumholz. by foreign entities.

The Increasing Cost of Campaigning The most evident change is that campaigns now cost more. another $1. and like-minded business.3 billion.8 billion. national and state political parties. which is part of a much larger analysis of change in campaign techniques during the past decade in American political elections. showed how far we have come in changing the landscape of electioneering. all the bills are paid. focuses on one key area of inquiry: how fundraising—that essential task that fuels campaigns—has changed over the past decade. and countless local contests that have been big enough to employ professional consultants. and a variety of other organizations. 2008). there have been four presidential election cycles. ideological groups. hopefully.8 billion raised by the 2008 presidential candidates. changes in campaign fundraising law and interpretation through the courts. the remainder was raised by the twenty-five other official candidates. it is a critical function throughout the election. The Center for Responsive Politics. What has changed over the past decade in professionallybased American campaign fundraising are the increasing cost of campaigns. and in many cases does not stop until well after the contest is over and.4 billion (CRP. The presidential and congressional elections of 2008 were by far the most expensive in American history. and a much shorter primary cycle. labor. most costly. with the presidential race costing nearly $2. Beyond the $1.S. and ideological organizations.3 observers have predicted extraordinary.4 billion came from joint fundraising committees. In 1996. the national political parties. Of course. a non-partisan. In all. fewer challengers from the other main party. and the rise of online contributions. hundreds of gubernatorial contests. senate elections. labor unions. just $800 million was raised by presidential candidates in 2004. This is nearly twice the candidate fundraising for the 2004 federal elections and triple that for the 2000 elections. Since 1996. Nearly all have depended on private donations and the fundraising acumen of candidates themselves. Fundraising is one of the first activities a campaign engages in. In the 2008 presidential campaign—the longest. the 2004 contest was quite different from that in 2008: an incumbent president (with no challengers from his own party). In comparison to the $1. Raising campaign money is fundamental to any competitive campaign. The candidates in the 2008 presidential race raised a total of $1. fundamental changes in the way campaigns would operate. and perhaps the most interesting in memory—in many ways. non-profit organization that tracks federal election money. predicted that the 2008 federal elections would cost $5.8 billion raised by candidates. with Barack Obama raising an extraordinary $745 million while John McCain raised $368 million. several thousand congressional contests. Democrats collected about 59 percent of the money raised in the 2008 presidential cycle (CRP. 2008). a presidential election similar to that in 2004 with an incumbent president Copyright PSA 2010 . all trying to influence the outcome of the election. their campaign consulting team. more than 200 U. This paper.

692. 2 Copyright PSA 2010 . When adjusted for inflation. This is 34 percent more. the funds were hardly raised equally. current and historical data compiled by Center for Responsive Politics.739 (or $915. and Texas--the candidates raised and spent more than a total of $155 million.813 2004 $ 800 $ 1. the average cost of a successful.376 House candidates.opensecrets.531. when the average successful competitive campaign cost $673.org/pres08. incumbents and challengers spent far more than these averages. But the top ten House contests in 2008 cost more than $6 million each. than a successful campaign in 1996. with the New York Twentieth District nearly double that amount. Kentucky. However.376.5 billion.003 2000 $ 529 $ 661 1996 $ 426 $ 584 __________________________________________________________ Source: Federal Election Commission data.267. the 2008 presidential fundraising represents a 310 percent increase over the 1996 campaign (see Table 1). Table 1: Total Contributions to Presidential Candidates 1996-2008 (in millions) ___________________________________________________________ In nominal $ In 2008 $ 2008 $1. while the average challenger could collect only $850. It was once unusual for a campaign for the House of Representatives to cost a million dollars. March 9. with $978 million raised by 1. adjusted for inflation.” and “Stats at a Glance: Presidential Candidates 2008.org/overview/index.opensecrets. a successful campaign for the U. 1976-2008. North Carolina. This is nearly a 50 percent increase. “Presidential Fundraising and Spending. In some heavily contested races.588 in 2008 dollars). candidates for the House of Representatives and the Senate raised more than $1.000. Likewise. and $410 million going to 168 Senate candidates (CRP. 2009). however.53 million. Senate in 2008 cost an average of $8. which averaged $4. 1 In 2008.813 $1.372.4 running for re-election.110 (or $6. a total of $426 million was spent by presidential candidates.419 in 2008 dollars). competitive seat in the House of Representatives was $1.S. 2009. In five heavily contested races—in Minnesota.php and www.” Available at www. Georgia. ==================================================== In 2008. adjusted for inflation.php?cycle=2008.359. Table 2 shows how costs have increased for federal legislative campaigns from 1996 through 2008. The Center for Responsive Politics calculated that the average Senate incumbent raised $8. from 1996.

841 6.368.247 b 2000 7. b Jon Corzine (D-N. candidates for the state legislature in California spend at average of $328.373. a Copyright PSA 2010 .428 855.976 8.000 in 2008 dollars). 2000). the costs of running for office.867 ___________________________________________________________ Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.172).034.224 1. Utah ($7.028.266.194.169.253.370 2006 9.539 1.267 9.) spent $63.531.227.635.5 Table 2: Average Cost of Campaigns for House and Senate Winners.372.7 billion in 2008. by 2008.110 6.238 840.739 915.359 1.300 1.716 1996 4.465.506.761 6. very little was spent on average in legislative contests: Idaho ($9.588 2008 2006 2004 2002 2000 1998 1996 Senate Winners 2008 8.576 8. Source: Federal Election Commission data.069.210 1998 5.000 and California Senate winners spent $1.135 2002 5.941.372.337. campaign spending has also increased steadily from 1996 through 2008.J.737.000) were the second and third most expensive averages in the mid-1990s (Hogan. of course. and Wyoming ($4.000) and Virginia ($95.635. The remaining Senate winners in 2000 averaged $4.8 million.209.184 1. the average winning candidate for California Assembly seats spent $769.447 673.370a 2004 7. The state legislative races in Illinois ($106.047).728 650. at $40.840.414 898.000 (or $445. In 1996.531. vary widely. all state candidates and political committees spent nearly $2. Hillary Clinton spent $29.064 1.507. and Campaign Finance Institute ==================================================== At the state level.692.365. As Table 3 indicates. At the state and local level.098.071).Y. But in a number of states.000.) had the most expensive Senate race in 2006. Center for Responsive Politics.031 1.267 8.040. 1996-2008 ___________________________________________________________ House Winners Nominal $ 2008 $ 1.022.

For the 2008 election cycle. and media markets.6 Table 3: State Campaign Spending for All Candidates and Committees. In the past five ballot election cycles. the itemized contributions for state contests during the 2007-2008 election cycle amounted to $2.000 $ 1.693.975 billion (NIMSP data) All in all. and steadily in other federal and state contests.000 1996 $ 305.phtml (accessed August 15. is truly the “Golden State” when it comes to campaign expenditures (and professional consulting fees). have much lower costs.6 billion for ballot initiatives throughout the country.org/database/nationalview. however.849.6 billion (NIMSP data). an extraordinary amount of campaign funds are spent on issue drives as well. available at www. from 2003 through 2008.000 ___________________________________________________ Source: National Institute on Money in State Politics.407. 4 Many gubernatorial contests. taking in all elections from the presidential contests to city council. over $58 million was raised. and in this hotly contested race. Altogether.000 $ 2. ============================================ California.000 $ 414. Will reminds us that this sum was approximately equivalent to what Americans spent on potato chips (Will. Columnist George F. and eventual losing candidate.000 2004 $ 2. For example. $477. 1996 – 2008 _________________________________________________ Year In nominal $ In 2008 $ 2008 $ 2.000 $ 2. millions poured in from national party and other sources.693. with California elections accounting for 62 percent of those expenditures. and other factors. with the incumbent governor. 2009).6 billion was spent by candidates trying to convince voters.followthemoney. Copyright PSA 2010 . population. about $8. In the 2009 Virginia gubernatorial contest. with its extraordinary size. the competitiveness of the contest. 3 Gubernatorial contests vary widely in their costs. a total of $34 million was spent. or nearly $1.129. in 2008 alone. as well. 2010). Jon Corzine. Because of the great number of state-wide ballot issues voted on every election cycle. interest groups (particularly Native American tribes fighting over casino and gambling rights) and citizens raised nearly $2. This was more money than was raised by the McCain-Palin presidential campaign throughout the entire country. contributing $25 million of his own money (NIMSP data).000 2000 $ 1. Costs vary depending upon the size and number of media markets.7 million was spent on ballot issues in California.493. In the 2009 New Jersey governor’s race. the cost of campaigning has gone up: dramatically in presidential contests. the number of candidates.

Individuals could now give $25. and a total of $25. and later get-out-the-vote activities and issue advertising. Individuals could give $1. the U. the hard money limits had been expanded.000. and general). $5.000 per calendar year. run-off. Senate and the House of Representatives. Political action committees were permitted to give $5.300 permitted under BCRA). $20. federal campaign financing was controlled by the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971. or political parties.000 per election (primary. This formula lasted from 1974 through 2002. so that in 2008. doubled for individual givers through BCRA and was then indexed for subsequent elections. Inflation ate away at these amounts: a 1974 contribution of $1.000 per election (primary.000 per election (primary.319 in 2008 (rather than the $2. Hard Money.000 in 2008) (FEC 2008).000 per year to a national political party.000 per year to another political action committee (often a so-called leadership PAC). the FEC created a regulatory exception. Then in 1979. which were outside the limits and jurisdiction of the federal campaign law—was introduced through a FEC rulemaking and amendment to the federal campaign act. S. From 1974 through 2002. after the 1974 amendments and the Buckley v. candidates for office were permitted to spend as much of their own funds as they wanted. and was not indexed. Under BCRA.000 per year to a political action committee. political action committees. The amount of campaign funds an individual could give to political action committees remained the same as in the 1974 amendments. came out of the new law. Individuals could now give $2. Several major reforms and changes. as substantially amended in 1974. Since then. the Federal Election Campaign Act was amended so that national political parties could spend funds on “party building activities” at the state and local level. A new element—unlimited and unrestricted campaign funds. the total amount of hard money. which permitted state political parties to use unlimited amounts of corporate or union funds (which were banned by federal law) to be used for voter registration drives. runoff. $5. The settled law.500 in 2008) to national political parties. Still. and general). and $15. run-off.000 ($28. In 1978. Soft Money. some unintended. Valeo decision. Copyright PSA 2010 . Because of the Buckley decision. Soon.300 per election. money that fell under Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulation. individuals could give a total of $95.000 ($108. to cover the $1. $5. During a two-year election cycle.000 was worth just $254 in 2002. 5 determined how much an individual could give to candidates. and general) with the amount indexed. 6 In sum. this money would not count against the national party’s hard money spending limits.000 contribution under the 1974 amendments would require $4.000 per year to a national political party. the contribution could be $2. that is. Federal law regulates elections for president. federal campaigns have been controlled by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) of 2002.7 Federal Laws Governing Campaign Finance There have also been substantial changes in both federal and state campaign finance reform laws during the past decade.

under the tax code were not required to declare their fundraising proceeds or list their contributors if the funds were used to influence the selection of candidates to federal. labor unions and other big donors to give unlimited funds to the political parties. whether ideological. labor union or business interest based. that figure had exploded to $263. 1992 – 2000 (in millions) ______________________________________________________________ Nominal $ 2006 $ 1992 $ 86 $122 1996 $263 $344 2000 $495 $590 ______________________________________________________________ Source: Federal Election Commission data. so too would campaign finance lawyers and political operatives soon find ways around the soft money restrictions of BCRA. and found that during the second quarter alone.S. permitted the creation of organizations with great potential for political activity. Here it was: a new. Public Citizen. by 1996. ======================================================= The first important accomplishment of BCRA was to ban soft money for the national political parties. rather than the campaign finance law.5 million. In all. was dubbed “soft money.” It expanded tremendously the ability of corporations.8 this unlimited source of funding.1 million in soft money. tax code. Copyright PSA 2010 . 7 Such organizations. single-issue. a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization. Democraticoriented 527 groups raised $265 million. and the 527 organization became the new vehicle through which unlimited and (until July 2000) unreported campaign monies could flow. while Republican-leaning 527s raised $154 million. soft money appeared to dry up. This became the new soft money. The 527 groups were not required to disclosure how funds were received or spent before July 2000. added by Congress in 1975. 2002). the Republican and Democratic parties collected a total of $19. In 1980. 527 organizations blossomed. During the 2002 election cycle. legal source for campaign funds. to restrict the use of soft money by state party committees. and to restrict federal candidates from raising or spending soft money. This provision. rediscovered through the tax code. tracked the funds that went to 527 political groups. state. Overnight. (Public Citizen. became one of the principal targets of the 2002 campaigning finance reforms. Soft money. outside the jurisdiction of the FECA. $78 million in contributions flowed to them. often criticized. During the 2004 presidential election.4 million poured into 527 groups during this 2004 election cycle. It did not take long for political activists and fundraisers to rediscover section 527 of title 26 of the U. $599. Table 4: Soft Money Contributions. But just as flowing water will eventually find its way through the crevices of a dam. or local office.

and 501(c )(6) business organizations spent “at least three times” as much in 2008 as in 2004 or 2006 (Campaign Finance Institute. Media Fund (pro-Democratic. Progress for America Voters Fund (proRepublican. 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations. the 501(c) groups are not required to disclose donors and only certain kinds of expenditures. where more money may be needed in a heavily contested early primary and a campaign would want to place all its bets on that particular contest. 501(c )(5) labor unions.4 million). It looked as though there would be a major increase in spending by organizations which would not have to disclose their donors (Gierzynski. the nominees for the major parties would receive public funds ($67. Unlike 527 organizations. twenty-five wealthy individuals gave a total of $146 million to 527 organizations.5 million in 2004. Wisconsin Right to Life. $84. For the general election. 2007). anti-Kerry. 2009). and candidates could receive partial funding of the expenses during the presidential primaries and once the major parties had held their nominating conventions and selected their ticket. In 1976. Thus. the Supreme Court. taxpayers could make voluntary contributions of $1 (later raised to $3). provisions in the tax code which control organizations that attempt to influence elections--527 and 501(c) groups—have become the new vehicles through which campaign funds have flowed. those qualifying for matching funds had to limit their primary spending ($37 million in 1996. 2009). Some of the best known 527 organizations included Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (conservative. the candidates could not spend any more money than that and would have to cease their own fundraising. roughly one-half what they spent in 2004. but they wreck havoc to the rollercoaster of real-life campaigning. Further. 8 reopened another path for soft money by broadening the definition of issue advertising (which is not regulated by BCRA) and narrowing the definition of express advocacy advertising (which is regulated by the law). strings were attached. For example in the presidential primaries. however. The state-by-state limits may look good on an accountant’s balance sheet. $26.1 million in 2008). soft money spending did see a major shift in emphasis: federal 527 groups spent $200 million in the 2008 presidential election.org Voter Fund (anti-Bush. This restriction. As enticing as matching public funds may seem. However. did not prevent the major political parties from funding get-out-thevote drives and party building activities. those candidates could receive public funds for the general election (Potter. Copyright PSA 2010 . a system of public funding and financing of presidential campaigns went into effect.9 The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) was the biggest contributor to 527 funding. $4. In 2007. Opting Out of Public Financing. giving $51.5 million in 2008) and to limit the amount of spending to a specified amount in each of the primary states. On their income tax forms. spending $13 million). in FEC v. and MoveOn. 2009). In the 2008 presidential election.5 million in 2000. But the other organizations. $42. $26.8 million). 2005 and FEC.7 million) (Johnson.

Barack Obama’s campaign broke the pattern. But serious. Obama relied on private funds. less than a week after the Court ruling. cable or satellite transmission of “electioneering communications” paid for by labor unions of corporations from their general funds in the thirty days before a presidential primary or sixty days before a general election. After publicly declaring that he would accept general election public funding if John McCain would do so. Clinton’s character and qualifications. and Bush in 2004. Obama backed off on that pledge. and in September. In 2008. produced by a conservative corporation. 9 The decision involved a so-called documentary. Several candidates. 2009). the ruling did no such thing. in a heated five-to-four ruling. In Citizens United v. The Court overturned a 1990 ruling that upheld restrictions on corporate spending to support or oppose political candidates and a 2003 ruling that upheld part of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act that restricted campaigning spending by corporations and unions." The Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision. and "susceptible of no other interpretation than to inform the electorate that Senator Clinton is unfit for office. that government has no business in regulating political speech. Citizens United Decision. Wall Street banks. In January 2010. both took general election public money. which featured scathing comments and assessments of Senator Hillary R.” In fact. which barred the broadcasting of the documentary during the time restrictions imposed by BCRA for advocacy.1 million in public financing for the general election. 2008. Hillary: The Movie. Public funding for candidates in the presidential primaries can be a life-line to second and third tier candidates who have not been able to attract and sustain large donations. Supreme Court handed down a much-anticipated decision that reshaped the constitutional protections of free speech and ruled unconstitutional parts of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. then Howard Dean. The lower federal court determined that Hillary was nothing more than a lengthy campaign ad. and that viewers should vote against her. alone. opted out of public funding: Steve Forbes in 1996. confident that they could raise sufficient funds during the primaries. and became the first presidential candidate for a major party to rely solely on private funding since the public funding option system began thirty years earlier. In Copyright PSA 2010 . health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans. BCRA banned the broadcast. Citizens United. their party’s choices in the general elections. that the United States would be a dangerous place in a President Hillary Clinton world. the U. the Court. McCain accepted the $84.” (Liptak. George W. raised an extraordinary $151 million (Corrado and Corbett. held that the federal government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections. big-moneyed candidates have found it more of an impediment at the primary level and would rather not be tied to its restrictions. Bush in 2000. determining that based on the First Amendment freedom of speech. Citizens United had lost a suit against the FEC. in his 2010 State of the Union address. John Kerry. 2010) Obama further declared. But Bush and Kerry.S. that it had “reversed a century of law. Barack Obama called the decision a “major victory for big oil. candidates could opt out of either the public funds for the primaries or for the general election. Federal Election Commission.10 Yet.

North Carolina. with twenty-two opting for some form of public financing of elections (Stenberg. The New Copyright PSA 2010 . a federal court ruled that the Connecticut clean elections law was unconstitutional. Arizona. Ten states 11 offered funds to qualified political parties through an income tax check-off system. Supreme Court in Davis v. Further. was deemed unconstitutional. 2009). the U. 13 In 2009.11 1907. 2006). 2009). corporations (and presumably labor unions) may spend freely in support or in criticism of candidates for office. providing either full or partial funding. As of mid 2009. Tribe points out that over two dozen states now permit unlimited corporate spending on campaigns. In 2008. six states—Illinois. 14 A clean elections law was passed by the California legislature in 2008 but does not take effect until voters decide in a 2010 referendum. Utah. But in the mid-2000s. Missouri. but without a corresponding flood of corporate campaign spending (Tribe. Federal Election Commission ruled unconstitutional the so-called “millionaire’s amendment” of BCRA and suggested that provisions granting campaign funds to candidates participating in state clean election programs might also be unconstitutional. and voters in Alaska overwhelmingly rejected a clean elections proposal in 2008. 1998 and NCSL. A pilot program for reform was suspended in New Jersey. important sections of the Vermont clean elections law were ruled unconstitutional in 2006. the clean elections movement encountered several setbacks. and that prohibition still holds. By 2009. for example. others point out that corporations. twenty-eight states had fundamentally changed their campaign finance laws. ranging from a modest $1 (in Idaho. Laurence H. whichever is higher) for voluntary donations to the state’s Clean Elections Fund. and the section in the BCRA which prohibited such activities during the thirty. State Laws on Fundraising From 1990 through 1998. Now. particularly those sensitive to consumers of their products who be reluctant to overtly oppose or support candidates. Oregon. Some dissenters fear that the Supreme Court ruling will open up a flood-gate of corporate spending in federal campaigns. Voters in Maine passed the first such public financing law by ballot referendum in 1996. and Ohio) to $25 (in Virginia). and it was followed by other states in what soon became called a “clean elections” movement. New Mexico.or sixty-day windows before elections. 2010). offered an income tax credit of up to $640 (or 20 percent of the tax amount. and Virginia-had placed no limits on the size of campaign contributions (NCSL. S. Congress barred corporations from giving directly to candidates. Corporate and labor spending will certainly be watched closely in upcoming federal elections. Sixteen states 10 provide public funds directly to individual candidates. twenty-five states had some form of public financing of candidates for statewide office and/or legislative office (Benton Foundation. nine states 12 offered public funds through some form of tax incentives to citizens. The measure was called the Maine Clean Election Act.

there were Bush “Rangers” (collecting at least $200. However. some 241 well-connected individuals. the six leading primary candidates had listed over 2. political allies. fundraising largely falls on the shoulders of the candidates themselves. During the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign of 2000. called Bush “Pioneers. it also raises the profile of individual bundlers. Especially after the BCRA ban on soft money went into effect. demeaning work.000 each. 2003).000 each for the presidential campaign (Drinkard and Quillen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign was aided by 233 wellconnected “HillRaisers. One of the earliest bundlers was EMILY’s list.12 Mexico legislature passed campaign limits that went into effect after the November 2010 elections. rubber chickens. an organization that promoted women candidates for office. and party faithful. In the early stages and many times throughout the election cycle. Bundling. speaking directly to them. 2009).902 from 240 or so of his friends and associates for Obama. It is tedious. friends. 2009). There is nothing illegal about this activity and bundlers do not have to be identified separately in FEC reports. was able to bundle $547.000) and “Super Rangers” (more than $300. This part of fundraising will perhaps never change. there have been some important changes in the manner and method of fundraising. head of DreamWorks SKG. in 2008 high-profile Los Angeles celebrity Jeffrey Katzenberg.” who pledged to raise at least $100. Barack Obama had 606 bundlers. Candidates are also expected to personally show up for fundraising events.” were responsible for collecting $100. the “smart money” people who can open up their electronic Rolodexes and persuade friends and associates to donate maximum allowable funds to favored candidates. During the 2008 campaign. John McCain had 536 such contributors (Public Citizen.000 individuals who bundled funds from friends and associates (Kirkpatrick.000). asking them to help out by donating to the candidate. at the very least a thank you note. “bundling” their contributions together. and have their picture taken with well dressed patrons. Bundling becomes an efficient way for campaigns to collect funds. a handshake or a signed picture with the candidate. Individuals giving money to candidates expect some level of the personal touch. in the 2004 presidential campaign. and less well-known but certainly adept at tapping sources were Ginny and David Knott of Knott Partners. a Copyright PSA 2010 . later. over the past decade. They have to make the “ask” themselves—calling up family. Soliciting Money Asking for money is an integral part of any campaign. the practice of “bundling” hard money became more important to candidates and committees. 2007). and the Illinois legislature in October 2009 was moving toward partial campaign finance reform following the arrest and impeachment of former governor Rod Blagojevich (Moore. endure the small talk. Thus. and presenting them as a package. and fattening hors d’oeuvres. Individual contributors gather support from friends and associates. whether a candidate is running for local sheriff or president of the United States. In 2008.

For decades. former Vermont governor Howard Dean’s campaign showed the promise of online communications. in Mill Neck.000 donors (or 1. (Johnson. and later conservative talk show host. Copyright PSA 2010 . Direct mail fundraising. available to long time supporters and. One of the best examples was that of former lieutenant colonel. MeetUp. McCain in 2000 and Dean in 2004 gave a glimpse of the Internet’s potential: an inexpensive. 2009). more than nine out of ten congressional and nearly all Senate candidates used direct mail. who ran for the U.13 money management firm. Further. and other rewards. to gather supporters. importantly. The campaign. entered a new era: where the curious or newly committed could click on their support. the old methods of telephone and especially direct mail solicitation were the standard ways of contacting potential givers. The reward for bundlers often is access to presidents (and presidential candidates). The task of prospecting for donors. direct mail. he was the first major presidential candidate to have a campaign blog. 2001).com. The biggest and most important change in the way money is solicited comes from the technology of online giving. and in the days immediately following. Oliver North. not only to persuade voters but to solicit funds from them.340 for McCain (CRP. Expensive though it was.000 online. adding their names to those who support the candidate. highly adaptive means of communication. 1995). was the life blood for most candidates. leaving the North campaign with just $6 million for its efforts (Persinos. who were able to bundle $456. During the third quarter of 2003. however. 2000).88 percent—not an unusual percentage) responded with $17 million in contributions. In 1996.S. but this was more than raised online by incumbent president Bill Clinton. through its direct mail consultants. McCain won a surprising eighteen-point victory in the New Hampshire primary. however. is an expensive proposition. senate seat in Virginia in 1994. 1998 and Faucheux. 2009b). ambassadorships. to new supporters and contributors. 245. favors and special treatment. Then came Senator John McCain’s 2000 bid for the Republican nomination for president. sent our more than 13 million letters. 1998). In the 2004 Democratic primaries. Online contributions. which was often a tedious. Dean made use of the early social networking site. Campaign consultants considered Internet fundraising a very low priority during this period (Friedly. his campaign was energized by over $2 million in donations coming through his campaign website. During the 1990s. presidential candidates were just beginning to use the Internet to raise campaign funds. Dean’s campaign set a record in Democratic presidential campaign fundraising by gathering in $15 million. and he tapped into the growing online communication revolution. nearly 40 percent of the donors were first-time givers (Van Natta. But the costs of soliciting those funds added up to $11 million. New York. particularly attracting younger voters. Bob Dole raised less than $100. expensive activity in the days of direct mail. much of it from online sources and mostly from small donors (Wolf.

the 2008 campaigns “exhibited a panoply of tactics and techniques. small donor contributions dropped. from traditional high-dollar dinners to online matching fundraising challenges for low-dollar donors. celebrity gals to fundraising events held overseas. there was a surge in small donor contributions to the political parties and a decrease in contributions from large donors.14 The presidential candidates in 2008. This might suggest that a greater percentage of persons now would be willing to donate money to political campaigns than before the online revolution. or eBay.” (Corrado and Corbett. the Obama campaign. relied heavily on the old fashioned personal fundraising. pictures taken with the candidate. phone-a-thons to direct donations made through cellular phones. As Anthony Corrado and Molly Corbett summed up. web videos. Following the enactment of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.) Who Gives to Political Campaigns Making a political contribution online. Some 3 million donors made 6. The Obama campaign adopted strategies routinely used in non-profit fundraising: asking donors to pledge on a monthly basis. fundraising parties. while reliance on large donors increased. policy suggestions. and the average Obama donor gave more than once (Vargas. all in the effort to capture campaign funds. both at the national and state levels. but for congressional candidates and 2004 (and early 2007) presidential candidates. and other information likely to both inform and encourage supporters—with all such messages having a pledge button. the Campaign Finance Institute concluded Copyright PSA 2010 . While online fundraising was a key story of the 2008 presidential elections. However. remains small. sent over 1 billion emails. the number of contributors. The campaign repeatedly sent email news reports. No presidential campaign in history was able to raise so much money from small donors as the Obama campaign. becoming their own versions of online bundlers. It became as easy and as convenient to send in funds to candidates as paying for products from Amazon. Despite increases in small donor contributions. 2008). where supporters could donate funds. Altogether. Lands End. and certainly the McCain campaign. 2009 at 127. It is an inexpensive way for campaigns to solicit funds and an easy and convenient way for contributors to give money. the Obama campaign had some 13 million names of supporters in their email files.5 million donations to the Obama campaign. defined period of time. asking supporters to raise certain amounts within a short. Social networking sites. virtually unheard of a decade ago. even with the convenience of online contributing. The average donation was $80. totaling more than $500 million. is now a commonplace activity. while growing. pitching them to different levels of financial supporters or potential supporters. special giveaways to sales of paraphernalia. special messages from the candidate or campaign team. encouraging potential donors to contact friends and family. particularly Barack Obama. with bundlers. and other forms of online communication also had pledge links. raised the level of online fundraising to its present state of art.

4 percent gave contributions of less than $1000 to candidates (Sanchez. 2009). Indeed.3 percent.15 that the “vast majority” of Americans do not contribute funds to either candidates or political parties (Malbin and Cain. 1998.benton. Copyright PSA 2010 . Even with all the new emphasis on online contributions and new marketing techniques employed in the 2008 election.org/pr/prRelease. Obama received 69. telephone calls.456 million votes in the general election. less than 0.1 million (an unprecedented number) donors were in its database. In a 1999 study of twelve states.html. http://www.” February 25. the National Institute on Money in State Politics noted that the percentage of voting age contributors to state campaigns was uniformly small. 2009. 2009. “twenty-first-century fundraising is paying for the same old-fashioned communications mechanisms that have dominated U. Campaign Finance Institute.aspx?ReleaseID=221.” October 22. 2009. or another presidential candidate in the general election. the percentage of adult Americans giving political contributions was miniscule. “Soft Money Political Spending by 501(c) Nonprofits Tripled in 2008 Election.4 percent of those who voted for Obama gave him a political contribution. Center for Responsive Politics. 2006). Presumably. a full 97. staff and consultants. Center for Responsive Politics Predicts. “U.” Available from http://www. 2009. As Michael Cornfield and Lee Rainie remind us. More than 131 million citizens voted for either McCain.S. Available from CFI website. “National Overview of Campaign Finance Reforms. Thus. Accessed August 15. 4. Available from CRP website.org/neustadt/reporters/us. the great majority of money raised was plowed back into the traditional sources of campaign expenditures: television advertising.3 Billion. 2008. but another 81 million Americans were eligible to vote but did not (McDonald. very few people give money. politics since the 1960s. Even in 2008.cfinst. 2007). Obama. Accessed August 15. http://opensecrets. persuasion direct mail.S. References Benton Foundation. 2009). Election Will Cost $5. few of these nonparticipants contributed funds to any political campaign.html.” (Rainie and Cornfield. The most optimistic participation was that of the Obama campaign: an estimated 3. with a surge of new contributors taking advantage of online convenience. and that those individuals who gave contributions. Accessed August 15.org/news/2008/10/us-election-will-cost53-billi.

Campaigning for President 2008: Strategy and Tactics. 2009. https://info.” In Routledge Handbook on Political Management. “FEC Announces Updated Contribution Limits. 2009. “Rewriting the Playbook on Presidential Campaign Financing. Faucheux. Federal Election Commission.” Available from CRP website. “Fund-Raisers Predict Surge in Internet Spending. “The Costs of Representation in State Legislatures: Explaining Variations in Campaign Spending. 2009b.” Available from CRP website. Edited by Johnson. Anthony. 2009. Available from FEC website. September. ________. 2007. Dennis W.” In Campaigning for President 2008. Robert L.: Brookings Institution. New York: Routledge.C. Anthony and Molly Corbett. “The Promise and Futility of American Campaign Financing.. Available from ElectionMall Technologies website. New York: Routledge. Drinkard. and Trevor Potter. J. “Bundling Contributions Pay for Bush Campaign. No Place for Amateurs: How Political Consultants are Reshaping American Democracy.php. Corrado. http://www. 1998. Corrado. Dennis W. 1998. 2009. October 16. Copyright PSA 2010 . Daniel R.“Price of Admission. March 18. 2000.“Bundlers. D.” Social Science Quarterly 81 (4) (December): 941956. 2003. Accessed September 17. 2009.fec. Michael and Lee Rainie. “The Web Era Isn’t as New as You Think. Ron. Cornfield. http://www.name/e-pressrelease/emt_news.asp?a=5A5. http://www. 126-146. “How Campaigns are Using the Internet. The New Campaign Finance Sourcebook.” Campaigns and Elections. New Voices and New Techniques.” USA Today. Johnson. Gierzynski.html.gov/press/press2007/20070123limits.org/bigpicture/stats. Edited by Johnson.16 ________. Johnson. Hogan. Ortiz. 2009. January 23. eds. 2007.” The Hill. Accessed September 17.php?id=N00009638. Washington.opensecrets.opensecrets.org/pre08/bundlers. Mann. Jim and Laurence McQillen. Thomas E. 2nd ed.” EMT Current News.” November 5. 2005. 2006. Anthony. Friedly. Accessed November 8.electionmall. 2009a. ed. 151165.

Cain. 2002. Michael. 2009.followthemoney. “Use of Bundlers Raises New Risks for Campaigns. Malbin.C.” Campaigns and Elections.html. Available at NIMSP website.” New York Times.: Campaign Finance Institute. National Conference of State Legislatures.and Post-BCRA Contributions to Federal Candidates and Parties. Barack.edu/Turnout_2008G. Michael J. http://elections.pdf. D. and Trevor Potter. John F.org. Routledge Handbook on Political Management. New York: Routledge. Public Citizen.org/Default.: Brookings Institution. Available from White House website. 2007.org/documents/527/527_2ndQ. Obama. http://www. 2009. 2009. “Justices. 2007. July 14. 5-4.” Available from George Mason University website.: How Oliver North Raised over $20 Million in a Losing U. McDonald. “Ollie. June 1995. 1999-2006. Accessed November 8. National Institute on Money in State Politics. January 21.” August 13. Thomas E. New York Times. October 21. 2009. 2009b.C. Reject Corporate Spending Limit.” Helena. “The ‘Four Tops’ Party On: Political Parties and Legislative Caucuses Would be Exempt from Proposed Contributions Limits in Illinois. Daniel R. “2008 General Election Turnout Rates. Trevor. Washington. http://ncsl. 2009. Adam. 2009. 2009 Campaign Finance Data. Accessed August 15. www. MT: National Institute on Money in State Politics. Ortiz. Mann. 1995. D. Megan.org/press/press/ILCampaign Finance.aspx?TabId=16591. “The Current State of Campaign Finance Law. Inc. Available from the NIMSP website. 2005. Public Financing of Campaigns: An Overview. August 31.” In The New Campaign Finance Sourcebook. Senate Race. and Sean A. 2010.gov.whitehouse. “Second Quarter Stockpile: 527 Political Groups Continue Soft Money Grab During 2002 Cycle. Accessed September 17. David D. Available NCSL website. Accessed November 8. Copyright PSA 2010 . Liptak.17 ________.citizen. 2010.pdf. State of the Union Address. Washington. Available at Public Citizen website. Persinos. Edited by Anthony Corrado. 2009. Potter. The Ups and Downs of Small and Large Donors: An Analysis of Pre. http://followthemoney. 2009.S. Kirkpatrick. http://www.gmu. Moore.

Jon Corzine spent more than $131 million of his own money. Laurence H. III and John C.0 million.6 million) lost to Democratic challenger Al Franken ($23. available from http://www. incumbent Republican Saxby Chambliss ($18. incumbent Republican Elizabeth Dole ($19. Jose Antonio. On expenditures by Native American tribes. Accessed: January 28.” Washington Post.5 million).3 million) defeated Rick Noriega ($4. Republican Sandy Treadwell spent $7. incumbent Republican John Cornyn ($19.3 million).S.org. was elected governor of New jersey in 2005 ($42. Bloomberg has spent approximately $255 million of his own money. 13. in Kentucky. Democrat Kirsten Gillbrand spent $4. Senate seat from New Jersey in 2000 ($59 million of his own money).org/pres/ZZ/19990702.5 million). Van Natta.8 million). 2004. 2009.” National Law Journal. Center for Responsive Politics data on 2008 elections. “527 Organizations. 3 National Institute on Money in State Politics. 2009).” Available from NIMSP website. Wolf.org/database/nationalview. “McCain Gets Big Payoff on Web Site. 4 National Institute on Money in State Politics. Dec.5 million) lost to Democrat Kay Hagan ($8. Vargas. “Decade Reveals Unintended Results of Law Expanding Tribal Casino Games. Over the course of his elective political career. “What Should Congress Do About Citizens United? SCOTUS blogsite. http://www.com/2010/01/what-should-congress-do-about-citizensunited. Terwilliger. see Cheryl Schmitt.18 Sanchez. The former head of the investment firm Goldman Sachs won the U. 2009 Campaign Finance Data. 2009. http://www. 2008. has spent more. party and candidate support from 2000 through 2008. 2010. Accessed September 17. 2009. Jr. and in Texas. three term mayor of New York City. in Georgia. 2 The winner. Don. Notes In Minnesota. 2000. Wells. who spent $425 million on various ballot initiatives. Martin ($8. Gary. “Obama Raised Half a Billion Online.6 million. 2004. August 20. February 4. 24. “Average Contribution Size in State Legislative Races.1 million).” Wired.0 million) defeated Democrat Bruce Lunsford ($10. “How the Internet Invented Howard Dean.scotusblog. accessed November 8. in North Carolina. available at www.” New York Times. 1999.followthemoney.followthemoney. incumbent Republican Norm Coleman ($23.phtml (accessed August 15.followthemoney. Tribe. George J. Only Michael Bloomberg.4 million).” Sacramento Bee. January. 1 Copyright PSA 2010 . incumbent Republican Mitch McConnell ($21. 2010. and lost his re-election bid for governor in 2009 ($25. Samantha.6 million). Sept.3 million) defeated Democrat John F.

S. Montana. Jeffrey Garfield (2009). Arkansas. Because of budget constraints. the case is on appeal. Minnesota. Hawaii. 10 Arizona. 93 (2003). 7 The relevant section is 26 U. Valeo. 494 U.S. New Mexico.S. 9 Austin v. Vermont and Wisconsin. Ohio. Utah and Virginia. the 2009 New Jersey public funding had been temporarily suspended. dues or fund-raising proceeds as income if the money is used for “the function of influencing or attempting to influence the selection. 540 U.1. Michigan. 1 (1976). Public Financing of Campaigns. Wealthy candidates were now permitted to spend as much as they wanted on their own campaigns. 6 At the beginning of each federal election cycle. 652 (1990) and McConnell v.S. Minnesota. 424 U. or appointment of any individual to any Federal. Michigan Chamber of Commerce. Rhode Island.C. 544 U. ___ (2008). Minnesota. 527 (e). NCSL. 2. which states that an organization that is “organized and operated primarily for the purpose of directly or indirectly accepting contributions or making expenditures” did not need to declare contributions. Rhode Island. Florida.S. Maryland. the U. provided by the U. Iowa. Federal Election Commission. and Virginia. 12 Arizona. Connecticut. Department of Labor.” See Terwilliger and Wells. Public Financing of Campaigns. the FEC uses changes in the price index. New Mexico. North Carolina. 4. Oregon. 13 Davis v. S. Oklahoma. 11 Arizona. or local public office. Ohio. North Carolina. election. 14 Green Party of Connecticut v. 2004. Idaho. 1. New Jersey. Massachusetts. to determine the indexed contribution amounts.19 Buckley v. State. 8 551 U. Hawaii. Supreme Court upheld the contributions limits in the 1971 Federal Elections Campaign Act but ruled that there could be no expenditure ceiling on campaigns.S. Federal Election Commission. 449 (2007). Public Financing of Campaigns.S. Maine. NCSL. Nebraska. NCSL. 5 Copyright PSA 2010 . nomination.

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