The Cost of Admission

Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.” – Abraham Lincoln

It is extremely expensive to run for the office of President of the United States (POTUS). It requires hundreds of millions of dollars and if candidates are “lucky” enough to make it to the final showdown, they will have to raise more than a small countries GDP.

Fundraising has become just as important as a strong political acumen, experience, and looks – sorry Chris Christie, America doesn’t like big people. Candidates needs a considerable amount of cash just to be competitive in the primaries. Wanna make it past a caucus?  Have a couple millions to fund your trips, rallies, signs, mailers, radio spots, campaign staff, etc. It’s the cost to be in the race. That isn’t to say you can just be anyone and be in the race…. or can you?

Surely, you can’t be a brash, egotistical, multiple time bankrupt businessman, who is sexist, racist and loves brass, right?!

Consider the amount of money that Hillary Clinton and Bernard Sanders have received thus far for their POTUS bid – about $190mm in total. Hillary has received well over $115mm and Bernie at just over $75mm. These are strong presidential candidates, with years of experience on Capitol Hill. However, even Hillary, who’s name recognition is undoubtedly the highest in the POTUS race, has raised the most money – $40mm more than the next closest candidate, who just so happens to be Sanders. It takes more than just famous name or an angry fist, it takes dough.

The amount raised will only intensify when it comes down to just two nominees from each party. Here are some numbers from the 2008 and 2012 Presidential election:
  • ’08 Obama – $778mm
  • ’08 McCain – $399mm
  • ’12 Obama – $737mm
  • ’12 Romney – $483mm
Staggering. Over $1bn received for two candidates in the past two elections.
The Democratic party has raised $44mm less than the GOP and have spent about $54mm less than the GOP. Having a two horse races has been more efficient and beneficial for the Democratic party. Say what you will about policies, but not having a crowd all vying for the same job makes the Dems look much stronger. Who likes a bunch of kids fighting over cake?
The GOP has raised almost $243mm and have already spent just over $183mm. This has been across six “serious” candidates and others who have dropped from the race. These figures seem pretty outrageous, right? John Kasich has received well over $7mm and no one is holding their breath for him to win. This has been the issue for the GOP for sometime, having a serious candidate that everyone can get behind to bankroll. 
You can throw money around, and you kind of have to win, but if you aren’t given the full support of the party the path to Pennsylvania Ave is too great of a climb.
Appendix: Further Charts
The Republican Party’s funding pie is being split between 3x’s as many candidates than the Democratic Party

NY, CA, FL, and TX are cash cow states and are must haves.
On the other hand, swing states, which may not have the cash are incredibly important to winning it all.

Current Presidential Candidates Receipts Breakdown

Candidate Name Sum of Total Receipts % of Total Rec.  Total of Operating Expenses % of Total Exp.  Net Remaining  Utlization of Receipts
KASICH, JOHN R  $7,582,364.84 1.99%  $5,017,825.24 1.93%  $2,564,539.60 66%
TRUMP, DONALD J  $19,405,216.96 5.10%  $12,180,793.50 4.68%  $7,224,423.46 63%
RUBIO, MARCO  $29,710,091.51 7.81%  $21,574,640.71 8.28%  $8,135,450.80 73%
BUSH, JEB  $31,922,099.87 8.39%  $24,276,991.84 9.32%  $7,645,108.03 76%
CRUZ, RAFAEL EDWARD “TED”  $47,086,857.05 12.38%  $28,122,201.79 10.79%  $18,964,655.26 60%
CARSON, BENJAMIN S SR MD  $54,036,610.31 14.21%  $47,196,679.94 18.12%  $6,839,930.37 87%
SANDERS, BERNARD  $75,023,151.54 19.73%  $45,994,776.47 17.66%  $29,028,375.07 61%
CLINTON, HILLARY RODHAM  $115,563,928.67 30.39%  $76,153,409.89 29.23%  $39,410,518.78 66%
Grand Total  $380,330,320.75 100.00%  $260,517,319.38 100.00%  $119,813,001.37 68%

  • It is incredible the amount of support Ben Carson has received in terms of nominal value, but has yet to translate that into a serious move in the polls. He is also burning through his money.
  • The Donald, a former reality show host, is benefiting greatly from his name cache and a disenfranchised base looking for a non-politician to tell it how it is. 
  • Cruz has risen to the cause of taking on Trump and is poised well from a financial standpoint to do so. He has been the most efficient with his money. 
  • The criticism of Bush is fair. He has raised a ton of money and has hardly anything to show for it. After Carson he has the highest burn rate. 
  • Sanders might have a lot of runway with his funds and seems to be threatening Hillary, but he needs to start to winning delegate to make this a real fight. 

All of the financial figures was taken from the Federal Election Committee

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