Where Does Meg’s Money Go?


Inquiring minds are looking into the costs of political campaigning…and California is the costs the MOST!

The politician on the most extreme spending spree this year is Republican Meg Whitman, the former eBay CEO who is running for governor of California.

She has set a record, running the most expensive non-presidential campaign in history. With a substantial personal fortune, she has ploughed $140m (£89m) of her own money into her campaign, vastly outspending her rivals in both the primary and the general election.

For comparison, the entire Australian federal election in August cost just $52m. In the UK, the maximum a political party can spend on a national election is $31m.

So what does $140 million get you?

According to her campaign finance reports, by far the biggest chunk of her spending – almost $95m – has been on advertising, mostly television.

One of the most interesting plays Ms. Whitman has done is stayed away from well-known campaign advertisement firms:

Like most campaigns, she’s engaged advertising firms to work with campaign staff, pollsters and other paid consultants to develop concepts, write scripts, produce spots, advise on strategies to get ads seen by the target audience – and buy the television time to screen the ad.

Ms Whitman has paid one firm, a previously tiny outfit in Virginia called the Smart Media Group, more than $83m to produce and place her ads. Other firms have been paid to advise Ms Whitman on communicating with particular groups or on specific issues.

With 13 different media markets, a statewide political campaign is a very expensive operation:

These markets are some of the most expensive in the country. Brad Adgate, senior vice president of media research company Horizon Media, says a 30-second spot during prime time in Los Angeles, reaching about 20% of the population, might cost $67,000.

That is significantly costlier than in smaller states. For example, according to Mr Adgate’s research, in the small city of Bowling Green, Kentucky, airing the same ad would cost less than $1,000.

At this stage in the campaign, Ms Whitman is estimated to be running 1,300 television ads each day.

There is much more to that article. It is well worth the read.

For those who think there is too much money in politics…the quickest way to get money out is to get politics out of people’s lives. That means government needs to get out of people’s lives.

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