$6B in campaign spending: What else could it buy?

This election was the most expensive in history. Here are a dozen other things the money could have been spent on.

By The Fiscal Times Nov 7, 2012 12:59PM

The Fiscal Times logoBy Blaire Briody

One dubious distinction of the 2012 elections is that it's the most expensive election season ever in history. According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, total spending on all local, state and national elections could top $6 billion, $700 million more than in 2008.

Much of that spending has gone to political advertising. Over one million presidential ads aired on local broadcast and national cable between June 1 and Oct. 29, an all-time high, according to the Wesleyan Media Project – 39 percent more ads than the 2008 election.

It's not likely to slow down any time soon. The increased spending is being driven by the controversial 'Citizens United' Supreme Court ruling in 2010 that allowed super PACs and advocacy groups to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on elections – though the ruling prevented the money from going directly to a candidate campaign or party. These outside groups are expected to spend more than $970 million on this year's election – with $70 million spent during the week starting October 21 alone. Ah, but that's just chump change.  Let's get back to the numbers.

Here are 12 other ways to have spent $6 billion:

• Provide lunch every day for a year for more than 11 million public school students. Each meal costs about $2.92.
• Reduce the annual federal deficit—now at $1.1 trillion—by just 0.5 percent.
• 250,000 new Priuses (or "Prii") at the starting price of $24,000.
• 858 million six-packs of Budweiser beer at $6.99 each.
• 4 billion AA batteries to get through the next hurricane.
• 1.7 billion gallons of gas (currently at $3.46/gallon nationally), which could fill up 146 million Prii (and also help you get through the next hurricane).
• Four years of college tuition at Harvard for nearly 39,000 students.
• Minimum wage for a year for 397,877 people (or the entire population of Cleveland, Ohio).
• 27,051 new homes at the median home price of $221,800.
• Resurfacing of 120,000 miles of U.S. roads and highways. According to a report from U.S. Public Interest Research Groups, 150,000 miles of interstate highways needed repair in 2010.
• 60 Boeing 737 airplanes.
• 75 percent of what Americans spent on candy and costumes for Halloween this year ($8 billion).

Blaire Briody is the Life+Money Editor at The Fiscal Times. Subscribe to The Fiscal Times' free newsletter.

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Nov 7, 2012 2:03PM

Good to see the GOP waste so much money following the repeated failure of Karl Rove to deliver. Let's hope the Koch bros. throw him under the bus. Good to see the 99% stand up to the GOP. Now let's see if we can get some campaign reform, reverse Citizens United, and work on improving the voting process instead of trying to find ways to disenfranchise voters. Good to see the OWS vote overpower the Tea. Now let's give the 1% a reality check and get them to pay their share of the tax burden.

Nov 8, 2012 1:44PM

Sad they could not redirect some of that money (and all that hot air) to help a lot of elderly people pay for heat this winter or ten million meals for the homeless, or eyeglasses and hearing aides for those who cannot afford them? Or perhaps it could create how many thousand jobs for home health aides to help the disabled or frail old folks stay independant (more cost effective than a nursing home, and more humane). Pretty scary state of their priorities, more important to sling more and more mud.  And now they will spend how many more millions for the inauguration? Waste not.... nah... the gov't does that for us....

Nov 7, 2012 1:01PM
I hope all those who voted to keep Obama on for 4 more years are very happy!. Let's see how happy they are today, as the financial markets are tanking, and their money is being flushed down the toilet!.  All the BS from Americans about the state of Washington, and the inability and ineptness of our politicians, was just that, BS!. After the smoke cleared last evening, America chose not to change a blessed thing in Washington.  To those folks I say this, "DO NOT  WHINE, AND SPOUT YOUR DISAPPROVAL OF WHAT WILL BE TRANSPIRING OVER THE NEXT 4 YEARS".  You asked for it, and you're going to get it, BIG TIME!.
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