Over $2 Billion – cost of electing a US President ?

Why does it take over $ 2 billion for the people of the US to decide who their next President will be ? Or conversely, is attention span so limited now, that people need to be bombarded by the media campaigns to constantly be reminded that Obama is a better candidate than McCain or Hilary Clinton ? Personally, I thought that Obama’s 30 minute spot on US TV was complete oversell. It undercuts his message of austerity in the coming decade for the American people.

12 thoughts on “Over $2 Billion – cost of electing a US President ?

  1. I agree that it was contradictory to his message. But I think his strategic planners decided to play hard ball on this one. American media has cited it as “flexing muscle”. I think they are just trying to put the nail in the coffin.

  2. Yeah, I think Obama is overdoing it, specially when its rather obvious that he will win.
    In any case, I think its a unique victory for a black person to become President in a nation thats been plagued by different kind of racism at diff points in time.

  3. I too have been staggered by the massive amounts of money used to get elected into office in the US, whether for the house of reps or senate, and obviously for the POTUS race. Before he started running for POTUS, I listened to an audiobook of Obama’s “An audacity of hope” — which was brilliant — and there was some interesting and humble material in there about how he started out fund raising for his senate seat, a process he hated and was not successful at. Now, we see that he has raised record amounts in record time.
    I do hope that with all the money that has been spent on this race — between Obama and Hilary, and then Obama v/s McCain — the American people are more aware and engaged in politics and voting than ever before. After all, 537 votes decided the 2000 election (have you seen Spielberg’s 5 Friends YouTube ad?), and voters need to turn out and be counted like never before.
    The world needs the US to make the right choice next week!

  4. The same will happen in India after 10 years!
    American media is so pro-active that it can influence people perceptions. The present US elections are a great study in promotion and image management.
    Indian media is still a decade and half away from US media but it is going the same way. People are reminded in Sms’s , Radios, TV everywhere! it has come to such a level that even Indians are aware of US elections.
    But election of the most powerful man in the world has a price…2 Billions (and more if unaudited) as donations from foreign funding may/not be accounted properly.

  5. I know – I saw ‘W.’ last night and it does cause one to wonder whether there can be any difference between the statesman and the businessman in the US these days…

  6. Dear Shekharji,
    I was very exicted that you will be doing Mr.India and now sad that you’re not doing it, though little happy that you’re part of it in creative way.
    That film was so good, it cannot be out of our system, the characters and every thing was ahead of time. Its sad and true that we do not have Mogambo…hope they create a good villian and not go to terrorism which is obvious these days.
    The stronger the villian the better is the story. Hope they give justice to it

  7. Dear Shekhar,
    Without doubt the 30 minute spot costing million of dollars was an overkill for Obama but for a campaign so flushed with funds and few days to go they are going all out. It is like a competitive sport and almost all ads in the last few months attack the opposition. They say that 40% of americans vote democrat and 40% vote republican and 20% are undecided and they are the ones that truly decide the election and the main goal of the ads is to sway these undecided voters in their direction. It is indeed selling and re-selling yourself so that on the day of the elction the undecided voter votes in your favour. The campaigns are so competitive and both parties have money so thay are going all out to fight, to sway, to convery that they are the change that America needs. There is no austerity at play here and nor will it be later but to not fight on TV, in debates and in print and electronic media will never get anyone elected. I think it is just the way politics works everywhere and both are just using the resources thay have at hand. Ultimately I hope the voter makes the right decision and the country moves fowrard in a more loving and responsible manner in world affairs.
    Best Regards,

  8. Whom do you mainly give money to? To your employees, to people who give you service and maybe some to charity.
    It does not seem to me that all the money politicians get come in as charity. They are bound to work for people (return favours) who gave them big money.

  9. I think the US would do well to look at the Indian elections of 1980 (Rajiv Gandhi).
    Offloading your duty to bring in the change to one political figurehead will only result in a heartbreak as that person is assimilated by the system that exists around him.

  10. Dear Shekhar:
    I respectfully have to differ with the opinions voiced that Obama’s 30 minute spot was an oversell. Obama’s campaign knows fully well that the poll numbers are to be viewed with great suspicion. The Bradley effect is not to be underestimated, even though there might be a curious reverse effect at work here. I would not be surprised if an equal number of people are too embarrassed when polled to admit that they are Obama voters, particularly in the red states. Hopefully, these two effects cancel each other out. Still, one cannot depend on it.
    It is definitely an American phenomenon that the so-called undecided voters are in doubt as to their choice right up to the moment when they step into the voting booth. The strongest and most poignant images of the last few days will then come into play. With the McCain campaign being busy to spend their last dwindling financial resources to create negative images of Obama a few days before the election it has left the Obama campaign with little choice but to pull all stops and try to clinch the deal. I can’t see how this could have diminished his austerity message. A large portion of Obama’s campaign funds have come from his anxious followers who have given him card blanche to do what needs to be done to win. That is a powerful mandate to a man who still has to overcome the handicap of being an African American. How else is it possible that in the final days the race is tightening again when at the same time McCain is burdened with every conceivable negative aspect of any presidential contest in recent history. Make no mistake, if Obama were a member of the Caucasian race he would now be leading with 20 percentage points.
    Himanshu, I think we both know who would introduce a new and more gentle tone in the handling of international affair. It sure couldn’t be the man who walks softly and carries a big stick (an utterance at a more recent presidential debate).
    With kind regards.

  11. Although I agree that political campaigns as a whole spend too much money that could be better used elsewhere, I don’t think Obama’s ad was oversell. He lead a very organized and deliberate campaign. Less than a year ago he was an unlikely candidate and he needed to do what he had to do to win, i.e. pull out all the stops. Bravo, Obama.

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