Answer Man: Why is so much spent on some political campaigns? | Local News

Answer Man: Why is so much spent on some political campaigns? | Local News

Q: Why is so much spent on some political campaigns?

A: The size of campaign budgets is usually tied to the clout of the office, not the pay. The more people, businesses, and groups with a stake in the issues over which the office has jurisdiction, the more they are motivated to financially support a candidate who shares their views.

That’s why so much money is spent on national and state races, and why deep-pocketed outside groups often back the political rivals of candidates they want to defeat.

The Constitution grants members of the US Senate and House the authority to enact federal legislation, the right to confirm or reject many presidential appointments, and substantial investigative powers.

The US president is responsible for implementing and enforcing laws enacted by Congress and, to that end, nominates Cabinet members, Supreme Court justices, and other high officials.

At the state level, governors make appointments, have the power to sign or veto legislation, and participate in the budget-making process. Members of state legislatures have authority and powers similar to those of members of Congress but on state-level matters.

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Elected officials at all levels have duties linked to the job. An official may serve on committees or boards that extend his or her influence on policies. That’s why groups try to sway him or her to their side on issues.

Once elected, an incumbent can be difficult to unseat. In general, incumbents usually have more name recognition because of their time in office. In some instances, seniority makes incumbents more powerful than newly-elected officials. A state legislator or member of Congress who has served a long time on a committee is often put into a leadership role.

Incumbents have easier access to campaign finance and may have donations left over from previous elections.

Incumbents usually know where to spend their campaign funds because they’ve won before. Challengers may consult with advisers and others to find out what types of campaign spending are most effective for the post they are seeking and budget their dollars accordingly.

An incumbent who wants to be re-elected often spends whatever it takes to defeat a challenger. Campaigns tend to address whatever issues arise, and if candidates aren’t tied to negative perceptions or a scandal then the deepest pockets often win.

Campaign spending varies according to the office. Sometimes well-placed ads, yard signs, billboards, and meeting with enough constituents on the campaign trail is enough to get a candidate.

But if a challenger poses a strong enough threat, an incumbent will spend whatever it takes to win.