Money can buy most everything –– even elections.
In this election cycle, based on the past 18 months of data, both candidates are projected to raise and spend $1 billion, making this the most expensive in American history, according to the Center for Responsive Politics website .
“It’s becoming a problem,” said Penn State political science professor Zachary Baumann . “The amount of money being spent reduces the legitimacy of the contest and people could perceive the election being bought.”
In the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections, the candidate who raised the most money won, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
In congressional races the numbers are staggering. In 2010, the candidates who spent more won 85 percent of House races and 83 percent of Senate races. In 2008, the candidate who spent more won 93 percent of House races and 86 percent Senate races, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The most lopsided victories came in 2004, where 98 percent of House races and 88 percent of Senate races were won by candidates who outspent their opponents, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The Center for Responsive Politics could not be reached by press time Tuesday.
“There is a correlation between the amount of money spent and who wins the elections, but we can’t prove that was the cause,” Baumann said. “There’s a variety of factors besides money.”
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, President Barack Obama’s top five contributors to his campaign are the University of California at more than $1 million, Microsoft Corp., Google Inc., the U.S. government and his alma matter, Harvard University.
Mitt Romney’s top five contributors to his campaign are all banks, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Ranking first is Goldman Sachs, an investment bank based in New York, at just under $1 million.
The next three are Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan Chase & Co. Ranking fifth is Credit Suisse, a Swiss-based multinational financial services bank.
One of the factors for how voters learn about candidates may be negative advertising, as Baumann said negative ads stick with people and work. More people are drawn to negative ads and remember them compared to positive ads, he said.
Drew McGehrin , president of the Penn State College Democrats, said he believes the money has changed things for the worse.
“The money has affected the election entirely,” McGehrin (senior-history and religious studies) said. “Both candidates have equal arsenals this election, but we absolutely need campaign finance reform.”
Chris Riccio (senior- accounting) , vice-chairman of the Young Americans for Freedom of Penn State, said he thinks the government should not put restrictions on speech. However, if the message is defamatory or slanderous, then the parties should face repercussions, he said