Monday, December 27, 2004

A 30% Rise in Campaign Costs to Achieve the Same Turnout Rates

Money buys happiness, and it also buys tens of millions of votes, but it can't buy every vote.

A "record $3.9 billion" ("04 Elections Expected to Cost Nearly $4 Billion: Presidential Race to Top $1.2 Billion," October 21, 2004) spent on presidential and congressional races, which made the 2004 elections the costliest in the history of the United States, failed to buy the votes of 79 million Americans:

Source: "What Just Happened? As It Ends, Recalling a Year in Numbers," New York Times, December 26, 2004, Section 4, p. 10
Only 30.9% of the eligible electorate -- in other words, merely 28.5% of the voting-age population of 217.8 million (US Census Bureau, "Presidential Election: 2004," October 26, 2004) -- voted for George W. Bush. That's hardly a mandate.

As you can see from the New York Times chart above, non-voters were the largest bloc.

60.5% of the eligible electorate, which was 55.8% of the voting-age population, voted this year; 59.5% of the eligible electorate, which was 54.7% of the voting-age population, did so in 2000 ("Voting and Registration in the Election of 2000," February 2002). In short, it took a whopping 30% rise in campaign costs (October 21, 2004) to achieve practically the same turnout rates as 2000.

One might conclude that Americans in 2004 are 30% more alienated from electoral politics than in 2000. What caused the 30% increase in alienation? Bipartisan consensus on the burning issues of the day: continuing the occupation of Iraq and refusing to provide universal health care and jobs that pay living wages for all who want to work.

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