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Presidential Campaign Finance and Donations. Why?

Micah just randomly asked “What if presidential campaigns were like corporations?” What if, indeed.

It’s a competitive field, many campaigns are out of business by 9 months before the election and only one “corporation” will survive. That means that the return on investment average for investors in the sector isn’t very good. Only a small percentage see any results for their money (even if all the people who supported the victor got ROi).

What kind of ROI would lead one to invest so speculatively? I guess some people are really passionate about a candidate and his/her platform. Maybe some think that there’d be a tangible benefit for them. I’d prefer a president who doesn’t start wars…other people might like one who gives tax cuts. Maybe you believe that Hillary will protect women’s rights better. It makes more sense for corporations, who may be looking for favors for them or their sector.

I don’t mean to get political here, in fact I try not to get mixed up in such politics. I will say that I don’t think any of the candidates presents a clear “This person is so awesome there’s no reason to vote for anyone else” platform.

It makes some sense that people would donate to Obama and Clinton right now if they feel strongly about either, since they’re so close and both could also win the presidential election if nominated. Or one might feel that they’re basically the same so it doesn’t matter.

What confuses me is things like—who would donate to the Huckabee campaign after it became clear that he wouldn’t take the nomination? It seems like people were doing it all the way up to the end.

And Huckabee was a comparative contender. Kucinich is cool on some things…but he’d never take the nomination. Micah thought Fred Thompson would be an interesting change on certain issues, but he also never thought Thomspon would win (Micah and I should do an “odd couple” politics blog—hey, we make it work!).

Yet people funded Kucinich and Thompson. If these people wanted a write off, I can think of a number of groups on various issues which would get a lot more done with that money and support similar causes. Even lobbying makes more sense, if you’ve got a sponsored bill floating around out there.

If you like to support political campaigns financially, I’d be interested in hearing your reasons. It’s something I don’t quite understand, but I’m sure it makes sense to others.


Aaron Stroud April 29, 2008 at 4:49 pm

Odd couple huh? I’ve never understood how couples could hold strongly conflicting opinions on something important like politics. If you ever feel like expanding on that, I’d find the post highly fascinating!

plonkee April 29, 2008 at 6:35 pm

I think this is an interesting topic. In the UK a lot less money is contributed to politics by grassroots people than in the US. But then most people aren’t members of a political party, and getting over enthusiastic about a candidate isn’t very, British 😉 .

Mark Krusen April 29, 2008 at 7:29 pm

It is rather hard to get excited about our choices this year. We need to decide what degree of lying we are willing to tolerate. Oh yeah I guess we need to decide if what they are lying about is important too.

If they had to rely on me for money to run the campaign they would be in trouble. Throwing good money after bad just never made sense to me.

James April 30, 2008 at 2:22 am

Ultimately dollars spent funding campaigns are statements about one’s political beliefs. Most candidates loose. Therefore for most individuals a contribution to a candidate is not viewed as an investment with an expected dollar return, rather it is seen as an expression of support for a particular candidate or that candidates ideas.

Cath Lawson April 30, 2008 at 2:52 am

Hi Mrs M – This is a good point. I was amazed when I read about the cost of some of these campaigns and I’m guessing a lot of cash must be donated.

I too don’t understand the people who donate when there is no chance of the candidate being elected. Mind you, I don’t understand the people who donated money to the Bush campaign either, but there must have been many.

Ron@TheWisdomJournal April 30, 2008 at 1:00 pm

People get worked up over how much is spent on campaigns…until you realize that we spend more on chewing gum per year (source: Freakonomics).

The main thing I hate about politics is that at its core, it says that a group of people have the right to take away your money and use it any way they wish and if you don’t pay, jail.

Sounds more like organized crime and “protection money.”

mrsmicah April 30, 2008 at 2:08 pm

@Ron, I don’t understand gum either. But at least it’s more guaranteed to give pleasure!

SavingDiva May 2, 2008 at 10:33 am

I guess people donate money to campaigns they believe in, not because the candidate will get voted in, but because the candidate is spreading their beliefs on issues…

shawna May 2, 2008 at 11:19 am

I gave money to Hillary’s campaign a couple of months ago before the Ohio primary. Why? I feel like I have a lot to lose (as someone that is gay, without healthcare coverage and a woman) if she does not get the nomination. And after hearing that she had to loan her campaign money I wanted to help to make sure her message got out here in Ohio. And for the record, this is the first election that I have ever made a donation.

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