It is almost double what was spent four years ago, and more than triple what it was in 2000, according to the Center for Responsible Policy, an independent think tank on electoral spending.
Fourteen billion dollars. That is the impressive sum spent by the candidates for the presidential and legislative elections in the United States, an absolute record that shows the public willing to raise the ante in the hinge states, motivated by a visceral rejection of the opposite side between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
It is almost double what was spent four years ago, and more than triple the number in 2000, according to the Center for Responsible Politics, an independent think tank on electoral spending.
But even if the expenses are record, it does not guarantee the success of any candidate.
This is illustrated by the year 2020: the Democrats, who seek to retake control of the Senate, spent without brake to snatch the Republican heavyweight seats such as the leader of the Upper House, Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) or Susan Collins (Maine), but they failed in the attempt.
Democrat Jaime Harrison was easily defeated by Lindsey Graham after spend a record sum of $ 108 millionFar more than its adversary, thanks to donations from Democrats across the country, according to Karl Evers-Hillstrom of the Center for Responsible Politics.
“To all progressives in California and New York I say: they have wasted a lot of money“, Graham ironized after his re-election.
Another resounding defeat was that of Amy McGrath, the candidate to defeat Mitch McConnell, in the Senate for 45 years and a nightmare of the Democrats, recently vilified for having orchestrated the swift appointment of conservative Justice Amy Comey Barrett to the Supreme Court, days before the presidential elections.
McGrath, ex-fighter pilot, in vain burned 88 million dollars in the second costliest battle in US Senate election history.
Republicans lost some expensive but less spectacular bets. They raised 10 million dollars from all over the country to prevent re-election in New York of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, star of the most left wing of the Democratic Party and incarnation of the supposed “socialist” threat that the Trumpistas denounce.
But the 31-year-old lawmaker, social media ace, beat his rival by 38 percentage points, former policeman and Catholic school teacher John Cummings, 60, after raising 17 million for his campaign in one of the most expensive electoral battles in the Lower House.
In the face of these losing bets, election finance experts like to remind that even in the United States, where almost unlimited campaign donations are allowed, “An election cannot be bought.”
While money is needed to buy the publicity needed to get noticed, an ad blitz cannot reverse strong trends.
“If you’re in a deeply Republican state, the chances (of a Democrat winning) they are close to zero“Evers-Hillstrom said.
For former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the richest men in the world, learning the lesson in the Democratic primary hurt your pocket: could not prevail despite spending 550 million dollars.
So why is so much being spent? For Michael Malbin, professor of political science at the State University of New York (SUNY), much is due to the growing polarization of the Trump era.
Motivation is one of the essential elements for every donor, said this expert in electoral financing. “Fury and rejection”Whether from “Trumpism” or “leftists,” for example, “are more powerful motivators” than support for a particular cause, he noted.