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Campaigns and Financing

At the head of this organization is a campaign
manager, who is responsible for overall strategy
and planning. In a national campaign office,
various staff members handle media relations
with journalists from television, radio, print, and
digital media.
Other staff manage finances, fundraising,
advertising, opinion polls, and campaign
materials. For state and local elections, state and
local party officials may help coordinate the
campaigns. Party officials and campaign field
workers contact voters, hold local rallies, and
distribute campaign literature

Propaganda and Advertising

One of the largest expenditures for election
campaigns is advertising. Candidates use
advertising to inform voters of their position
on issues, to portray themselves in an
appealing light, and to criticize their
Propaganda involves using ideas, information,
or rumors to influence opinion. It is not
necessarily lying or deception, but it is not
objective either.

Propaganda and Advertising

There are many propaganda techniques, most
of which rely on arguments that may sound
convincing but that are not necessarily valid.
Associating a candidate with a symbol, using
negative words and labels to describe an
opponents positions, pretending that an
opponent supports a position that he or she
does not, and quoting only favorable statistics
are some examples of the types of
propaganda that have played a part in every
campaign since the 1800s.

The most important communication tool for a presidential candidate is
television. Watching television is the main way that many citizens find out about
a candidate and his or her position on issues. Appearances on television news
shows are vitally important for campaigns in order to remain in the public
consciousness, and campaigns will routinely stage newsworthy events with their
candidates in order to get favorable airtime. Televised debates, often occurring
late in a campaign, can have an impact on undecided voters.
You can tell whether an ad was produced by a campaign or by a supporting
group by whether or not the candidate being supported states during the
advertisement that he or she approves of the message. This is a requirement of
the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, written with the idea that fewer
negative ads would be created if candidates had to actively affirm the language
in their advertisements.

Just in time for the 2012
presidential election, an election
watchdog group developed a cell
phone application that allows a
user to point his or her phone at
the television and then be
automatically linked to a
database containing information
about the group sponsoring the

Internet and Social Media

President Barack Obamas 2008

campaign broke campaign
fundraising records and raised over
$700 million, in part by making it
even easier for individual donors to
give and volunteer through his
campaign websites.
It is no longer enough for candidates
to have just one campaign website as
their Internet presence. Campaigns
tweet to supporters, are active on
Facebook and other social media
sites, maintain blogs, send e-mail
blasts to their supporters, and use
targeted advertising across the web
Social media can be a powerful and
cost-effective campaign tool.
Campaign supporters generate new
content and spread this content to
their friends and connections
through the use of social media

Campaign Finance
Running for political office is
very expensive. In the 2011
2012 election cycle,
presidential and congressional
candidates spent more than
$7 billion on election
campaigns. Candidates need
money for office space, staff
salaries, travel, and
advertising, among other
things. In addition to
candidate spending, unions,
corporations, and other
groups spend huge sums of
money to independently
advertise on behalf of the
candidates and issues that
they support.

Campaign Finance
Efforts to regulate money in campaigns are controversial. Those favoring
strict regulation believe unlimited spending can have a corrupting
influence on politics and gives an unfair advantage to those with a lot of
money. They argue that, once elected, candidates will feel the need to give
favors to those who contributed heavily to their campaign.
When a candidate seems to be motivated by specific monetary interests
rather than by the good of the country as a whole, people accuse that
candidate of corruption. Opponents of regulation believe money
contributes to a broader political debate. They argue that giving and
spending money in elections is a form of speech and thus protected by the
First Amendment.

Efforts to Regulate Campaign Finance

Since 1908, Congress has tried to set limits on
campaign funding in order to reduce corruption.
This has proven to be a difficult balancing act, as
limiting spending and donations can also be seen
as limiting free speech. The early campaign
finance laws tried to limit both how much
individuals and businesses could donate to
campaigns and how much campaigns could
spend. These laws were challenged in court.
In 1975 the Federal Election Commission (FEC)
was created to administer federal election laws.

Public Financing
Federal funding for presidential elections was
established as part of a 1974 amendment of
the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA).
Candidates that qualify can receive campaign
funds from the federal government if they
promise to limit the amount their campaigns
spend to a specific amount.
Barack Obama elected not to receive public
financing while Republican nominee John
McCain chose to receive it. As a result, Obama
was able to outspend McCain by a factor of
two to one. In 2012, neither presidential
candidate used public funding

Direct Funding
Direct contributions are called hard money
and are limited based on regulations set out in
FECA and its amendments. As of 2012,
individual supporters can donate $2,500 to a
presidential candidate; national and local
party committees can give $5,000. Political
action committees (PACs), which are groups
established by interest groups to raise money
to support candidates or parties, can donate
Individuals are capped at donating $117,000
on political campaigns every two years

Indirect Funding
Indirect funding includes contributions to issue groups and
political organizations that are independent from and not
coordinating with a campaign. In the past, money given to
these organizations was often funneled to national parties
and used to advertise for candidates, hold voter
registration drives, or stage get-out-the-vote campaigns. In
2002, Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold sponsored a
bill to rein in this spending. The Bipartisan Campaign
Reform Act (BCRA) banned these soft money transactions.
In 2010 the Supreme Court struck down these advertising
limits in Citizens United v. FEC. Due to this and several other
legal decisions, PACs that do not coordinate with campaigns
can receive unlimited donations from individuals,
corporations, unions, and other groups. PACs that take
advantage of this new freedom are now commonly referred
to as SuperPACs. These powerful SuperPACs collect and
spend unlimited amounts of money to support or defeat a