A Century of Campaign Costs

Money and politics have been together a long time. Campaigns and campaign finance have been a part of American politics since before there was a constitution. Here’s a brief look at the long view of presidential campaign costs over the past century.
1860 – Perhaps the most famous American president, Abraham Lincoln, spent about $2.8 million in today’s money to win his presidential bid. The 2012 election season cost about $2.6 million per day!

1916 – In one of the closest elections ever, before Bush vs. Gore in 2000, Woodrow Wilson won a nail-biter against Charles Evans Hughes. From the top 50 corporations in the country, Wilson raised a total of $10,000.

1932 – Not even the Great Depression could stop political spending. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s landslide victory cost the electorate over $100 million in today’s money.

1968 – Outspending every election that came before and after until Bush vs. Kerry in 2004, the first presidential election of Richard Nixon cost an equivalent of half-a-billion dollars for the entire election season.

2008 – Far outpacing any previous election in history, the battle between Obama and McCain topped $1 billion for the first time ever.

2012 – Some graphs are easy to read. Just keep looking up. The 2012 campaign topped $2.5 billion, continuing the exponential rise in campaign spending.

Times change, but money in politics stays the same, or, you know, grows exponentially every election cycle. Whenever you decide to join the game, process your contributions the smart way. Let Raise the Money handle your donations and reporting requirements so you can focus on what matters – raising more money.