We all know that times are hard, but rising politicians are benefiting from increased campaign contributions despite the current recession. According to the Washington Independent, the first quarter fundraising for the ten closest incumbent house races have increased by 18%, and 39% for the five most competitive Senate races.
Campaign finance analyst say that perhaps the recession is pushing more money into Washington. I agree, and I think it may be the result of either worry or confidence.
For those who are well in tune with the economic events, the headlines overwhelmingly highlight the negatives. National debt is increasing, unemployment numbers hit record highs and businesses are going bankrupt; all of which are true, and could possibly influence people to contribute more money to promising candidates to further stimulate a positive response. On the other hand, the government states that the worst may be over, and America is slowly exiting a recession. With this uplifting news, Americans may be contributing more to speed up the recovery.
The Washington Independent states that lobbying has increased by special interest and business executives who raise funds for congressional candidates. This means that the upper echelons of society are now worried. With the government's increased involvement in the capital markets, many businesses have raised a red flag and must tear down that government wall to protect their bottom line. It's a vicious battle between Main Street and Wall Street, but the weapon of choice is money.
This growth in political contributions could also stem from President Bush's decision not to endorse many of the new ideas from Congress. With little accomplishments in government, there were fewer incentives to give.
It's also important to note that only a small percentage of Americans actually contribute more than $200 to campaigns.
Another reason could be the sudden increase in popularity of politics. The 2008 elections shed light on the younger generation, and more people want to be involved in government. Obama's Presidential Campaign shifted from the elite contributors to the grassroots "ordinary" donors. This resulted in an increased volume of participants who donated money to the campaign.
The current statistics show the contributions to PACs are growing at a much slower rate compared to individual candidates. I think that PACs will become the latest trend of political contribution vehicles. The new strategy in Washington is branding the issues. Politicians are choosing their niche and targeting donors who share similar passions for a particular cause. For example, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin stepped out of the Arctic Tundra to voice her concerns for domestic energy solutions (and now has a PAC of her own), Hillary Clinton branded health care reform on her presidential campaign trail, and Congressman Ron Paul targeted Libertarians in an effort to control "Big Government."
This will be the beginning of an inside look into how our money is being used in Washington. After all, we've all been busy trying to save the world -- as taxpayers that is!
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