The Structure of a Campaign All political campaigns can be viewed as a series of several campaigns that run simultaneously. The Nomination Campaign The General Election Campaign The Personal Campaign The Organizational Campaign The Media Campaign
Do we vote for the Candidate or the Campaign? • The most important factor in any campaign is the candidate (he/she is even more important than money). • Campaigns are able (most of the time) to downplay a candidate’s weaknesses and emphasize her strengths. • However, even the best campaigns cannot put an ineffective candidate in the win column – most of the time. • Most people vote for a candidate not the campaign.
Campaign Challenges The News Media Campaign Financing Televised Debates Individual Contributions Handling the Press? PAC Contributions Personal Contributions Party Contributions
Contributions and Expenses • Campaigns are VERY expensive. • House races can cost over $1 million but usually cost $400-700,000 for incumbents, less for challengers. • Senate races cost much more ($12 mil in CO). • All political money is regulated by the federal government under the Federal Elections Campaign Acts in the 1970s, and the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act (BCFRA) of 2002
Soft Money • Soft money is money with no limits or rules that is raised and spent outside of federal election guidelines. • Soft money is often used to pay for ads that do not expressly advocate the election or defeat of a particular candidate. • As long as these ads do not use the words "vote for", "elect", "vote against" or the like, ads can be paid for with unregulated soft money. • Many argue that the huge infusion of unregulated soft money has destroyed the federal campaign laws.
BCFRA - Individuals • BCFRA limits individuals to contributions of $2,000 per election, per candidate ($2,400 in the primary and another $2,400 in the general election). • Individuals may give a maximum of 115,000 in gifts to all candidates combined in any calendar year. Individuals may also give up to $30,000 to a party each year. • Amounts adjusted for inflation after 2002
BCFRA - PACs • PACs may donate $5,000 per candidate, and $15,000 per party, per election. • There are over 4,000 PACs registered with the FEC. • Soft Money groups such as 527 political committees and 501(c) groups have much more latitude.
BCFRA - Parties • Parties also donate money to candidates. The Republican and Democratic parties give 100s of millions to congressional candidates either directly ($10,000) or to local committees and advertising. • Wealthy members of Congress and state legislatures often also donate monies to candidates of their party. • Some members of Congress establish their own PACs to give money.
Personal Contributions & Advertising • In Buckley v. Valeo (1976) the Supreme Court struck down limits on personal campaign spending. • Spending your own money on your campaign is a free speech right. • Steve Forbes, Ross Perot, Maria Cantwell, John Corzine, and other wealthy Americans have used their personal wealth in a quest for office. • Individuals (including corporations and unions now with Citizens United vs FEC, 2010) have free speech rights and can advertise all they want.
Types of Election Advertising • Positive ad • Negative ad • Contrast ad • Inoculation ad • Fear ad