Hey, Big Spenders
Candidates vying for the Oval Office are expected to spend more than $1 billion in the run-up to the November 2008 U.S. presidential election. But the need to build a massive campaign war chest is a global phenomenon. Here’s where fat wallets make the biggest difference on Election Day.
The cash: Candidates vying for Diet seats spent a reported $350 million during the 2005 election season. That’s about $1.25 million per district.
Spent on: Greasing constituents. Because paid political advertising on TV and radio is banned, Japanese politicians must develop highly personal relationships with voters, which means shelling out a lot of yen for wedding showers, birthday gifts, and funerals.
The cash: The 24 presidential hopefuls spent more than $100 million each during the 2007 election campaign, and gubernatorial candidates spent as much as $10 million apiece.
Spent on: Institutionalized graft. Money is spent buying the support of a candidate’s own party members, election officials, and journalists. A much smaller share, probably between 5 and 10 percent, is spent on national advertising.
The cash: The estimated cost of running a decent campaign for a Duma seat is between $1.5 and $2 million, several times larger than the $228,000 spending cap.
Spent on: Media spots and party organizers. Candidates must shell out for TV and newspaper ads and hire agents to "gather" nomination signatures. Most media stations are state run, so incumbents can expect airtime to be skewed in their favor.
The cash: In 2006, Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva spent nearly $55 million to keep the presidency, and challenger Geraldo Alckmin ran through more than $42 million. But most parties keep a double set of books.
Spent on: Travel and campaign goodies. Brazil’s size demands that candidates spend most of their funds traveling to meet voters. They also build a base by handing out gifts, such as T-shirts, buttons, and food.
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