With the opening of Convention Season in the United States, the hunt for votes is reaching new heights. The Republican Convention in Tampa, Florida is pitched to nominate Mitt Romney as the party’s candidate to run in this November’s presidential elections, with running-mate Paul Ryan.
The more than one hundred million dollar made-for-TV Convention opens a day late this Tuesday because of the hurricane worries, so it’s been shaved down to three days.
The Mormon-Catholic ticket to defeat the Democratic incumbent Barack Obama loosely corrals social conservatives, Tea Partiers and fiscal conservatives with evangelicals.
Obama’s Democratic National Convention begins on Tuesday, September 4.
The drive for the country’s most prestigious job has hundreds of millions of funding dollars sitting in a government box, contributed by the taxpayers for the candidates to access. But both Obama and Romney have found it politic to raise their own funds, from big business, individuals, lobbies, unions and the like.
The Obama campaign, whose small-donor prowess helped it set fundraising records and win the 2008 election, has been raising a notably larger portion of cash from small checks than Romney.
By voting day, it is estimated that total spending in this race will have reached an unprecedented 2.5 billion dollars.
Today’s rules allow virtually unlimited funding.
In this marathon, in the month of July Romney clearly ran faster than the President, his team raising 186 million dollars to the incumbent’s 124 million.
Both of the red, white and blue runners have to stay the distance and keep the money flowing in. In the meantime, those trying to influence Americans to support them keep up their professional and highly competitive campaigns.
Obama ‘no slouch’ at raising campaign funds
The frequently forbidding tone used in US political attack advertising is a marked contrast to the jubilant razzmatazz on the stage – yet the TV spots are an major indicator of the fortunes being thrown into the contest.
With little exception, throughout all of US history, the candidate who brought in the most cash won the keys to the White House, and the Republican campaign juggernaut has been raising more treasure than the Obama collectors over the summer.
However, while Romney has done well compared to Obama in the last few months, the Obama campaign is ahead in the overall stakes.
Analyst Thomas Mann told our Washington correspondent that we can expect spending this year to lift the roof off previous levels.
Mann said: “There are a number of billionaires and very wealthy millionaires who have written checks for more than a million dollars to these individual committees. Almost all the money raised and spent goes for television and radio ads.”
Text message donations sent by mobile phone are a new feature in the political race this year, capped at ten dollars per text, and 200 dollars maximum this way per candidate.
The big ticket donations to independent support groups called Political Action Committees (PACS) run up to seven figures.
Mann said: “Barack Obama is no slouch when it comes to raising money himself. He broke all records when he first ran in 2008: $750 million was raised in regulated contributions, many of them from very small donors. He’ll raise close to that this time, maybe a little less, maybe only $700 million. Romney will himself in connection with his party raise a comparable amount of money. So they are going to have a lot of money to spend in the brief period after the conventions.”
Some critics warn that the huge sums involved cannot help but warp the people’s ability to trust their government, as the competing candidates and their acolytes hurl accusations and counter-accusations at the other with increasingly costly abandon, to the point where many voters can be confused into thinking that this communication is normal for American politics – at least at election time.