Presidential Elections: Campaign Finance


The research work, which has been carried out, aims to analyze financial activities during the presidential campaigns of 2004 and 2008. We are going to discuss expenditures and fundraising of two leading parties, the Democrats and the Republicans throughout the country, and particularly in the state of Florida. The major purpose is to compare the statistical data and outline the tendencies that have emerged over recent years. In this study, we need to refer to the information, published by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). This investigation may enable us to identify approaches that the parties take to gathering financial aid and spending. However, prior to dealing with this issue, we should first discuss the concept of finance campaign and its importance during elections.

The notion of finance campaign

It stands to reason that the success of any candidate strongly depends upon the financial means, which he or she possesses. Thus, it is of the crucial importance to pay extra attention to funding. On the whole, finance campaign can be defined as spending and fundraising, made by the state in the course of the selection. However, this term has a broader meaning as it also includes the methods of finding support, allocation of resources, legislative restrictions, imposed by the state, and so forth (Gross et al, 2003). Speaking about this question we should not forget about the sources of revenue because in part, this parameter reflects the priorities of the candidate and his team. At this moment, we do not intend to go into details, however, judging from the results, released by FEC, we can say that the costs of presidential elections have significantly risen, and this trend appears to be somewhat disturbing. Furthermore, we can argue that both parties spend almost astronomic amounts of money, which might be used more prudently. Yet, this is only one facet of this question. We have selected the separate state in order to ascertain how exactly major political forces treat various regions of the country. For example, it might be interesting to determine why the expenditures in one state are lesser or larger than in the other; the same goes for fundraising. Thus, we can say that campaign finance should not be reduced only to costs and gains.

Comparative Analysis

Presidential Campaign of 2004

At that moment, presidential elections of 2004 were almost record-breaking. The results of Federal Election Commission indicate that total spending exceeded more that one billion dollar (FEC, 2005). As regards the federal matching funds we can single out the following ones: federal matching funds, the transfers from previous elections, loans, and contributions of various beneficiaries, etc. While studying this information one is bound to notice that FEC does not specify the names of the largest contributors. It goes without saying that political activities require immense financial investments, and under some circumstances these expenses are not justifiable. Moreover, it should be mentioned that this extravagance or wastefulness is the characteristic feature of both parties, the Republicans and Democrats. Another interesting detail, which is very conspicuous, was that the role of private companies became more influential. In official reports they are usually called donors, and it is quite possible to presume that both sides (irrespective of their political affiliation) had to pursue the interests of large corporations. Nonetheless, at that time this trend did not manifest itself so explicitly.

As far as Florida is concerned, we can notice that this state has always been of great interests for opposing sides. It would not be an exaggeration to claim that the results in this region can prove decisive for the candidates. According to the data of Federal Election Commission, during the campaign, Florida one was one of the major contributors. The capital, which was invested into the parties tantamounted more that fifty-nine million dollars (FEC, 2005). Judging from this facts, we can deduce that this area was and still remains that one of the topmost priorities for politicians. On the whole the expenditures amounted to more that eighty million dollars. Therefore, we have tried to give general overview of campaign finance in 2008. Now, it is vital to compare and contrast it with a more recent one.

Presidential Campaign of 2008

The elections of 2008 only confirmed earlier tendencies, as it has been previously noted that the expenditures drastically increased and it that this was also a billion dollar campaign. In this regard, we have to admit that the sources of receipts were extremely diverse but the major part of contributions was made by the private donors, and this was quite understandable because none of the parties could afford such an expensive struggle (FEC, 2009). One cannot deny that the elections could not be won without substantial investments yet still; even this goal does not justify the wastefulness of the political forces.

Apart from that, political observers noticed that the Democrats and Republicans attached primary importance to campaigning in Florida. There are several reasons for this attitude. First, the state has one of the largest fundraising capacities. For instance, Barack Obama received more than seven three million dollars. Overall, donation exceeded more than sixty millions. Similar pattern can be observed in spending. This substantiates the hypothesis that the leading parties genuinely strive to achieve success in this specific state.


In this section, we need to outline some limitations of this research. First, in order to study the true motives of decisions made by the leading political parties one has to be involved in the process of campaigning and fundraising. We have just analyzed statistical data, but this is not quite sufficient. Another possible drawback of this study is the lack of specific data. One can hardly deny the fact that many organizations try not to reveal the information that can compromise them. The numbers that we have presented are approximate. We have avoided telling exact numbers as such statements may be inaccurate.

Nonetheless, some tendencies become quite apparent, namely the rising amount of expenditures and the increasing role of private (or corporate donations to be more exact) donations. Certainly, one must not presume that these contributions constitute the overwhelming majority but these sources of revenue have a very strong impact on the outcome of the campaign. The only statement that we can make with certainty is that billion dollar elections are not appropriate because this money could have been spent on more urgent needs of American society.

This investigation has shown that the state of Florida is one of the most important ones for the Democrats and Republicans, because there are many undecided or hesitating voters, who do now always know which option to chose. This explains the avid interest of the political forces to this area. As it has been previously mentioned the expenditures, made in this state will further grow. However, this is just a hypothesis, and the political landscape in the United States may change over the next two years. This investigation is helpful to the extent that it depicts the key tendencies in presidential elections campaigns, but one cannot predict whether they will continue or not especially in the long term. The research may be further continued for instance, we may focus on fundraising techniques and on the principles of resource allocation, because these issues are essential for our understanding of the process of election.


Thus, having analyzed campaign finance of presidential elections conducted in 2004 and 2008, we can arrive at the following conclusions: 1) the leading political parties tend to invest more and more capital, and the expenditures tend to grow at a very quick pace. 2) Secondly, we can maintain that the share of private donors, companies and corporations has become very large and to some extent, this fact indicates that both parties are strongly dependent on these private bodies and that the President will have to comply with the demands of the investors. Additionally, the findings of the Federal Election Committee tell that the state of Florida is considered as one of the most important districts for political players because the outcome of the campaign can be determined by its voters. The spending and contributions to Florida increased especially in comparison with 2004, and it is quite permissible for us to tell that the importance of this state will never diminish.


  1. Donald August Gross, Robert K. Goidel (2003). The states of campaign finance reform. Ohio State University Press.
  3. Federal Election Commission (2009). Summary Reports Results 2007-2008 Cycle
Find out the price of your paper