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Obama and Romney to waste 80% of campaign donations?

Published time: July 16, 2012 18:11
Edited time: July 16, 2012 22:11
Mitt Romney (L) and Barack Obama (AFP Photo / Files)

Mitt Romney (L) and Barack Obama (AFP Photo / Files)

If your hopes at winning dinner with the U.S. president are triggering your campaign finance donations, maybe you should reconsider where you enter the lottery.

­While Romney and Obama set campaign finance records in a fierce competition to outspend each other, campaign strategists claim their unprecedented efforts won’t help either side.

Eighty percent of campaign spending is wasted, Democratic pollster Mark Mellman told NPR. That means $3.2 billion of the minimum estimated $4 billion of this presidential election’s campaign finances will go to waste on efforts that won’t affect the vote, according to a former presidential strategist.

“The problem is we don’t know which 80 percent in advance, so we do it all,” Mellman told NPR. “That’s exactly what these campaigns are doing.”

Whether it’s for lawn signs or television ads, the presidential candidates are in the midst of a financial arms race, telling their supporters that money yields votes.

A strategist for former President George W. Bush agreed, claiming that much of the money will go to superfluous political ads that become nothing more than white noise to a skeptical American public – especially to those in swing states.

“It’s ridiculous. This is so much more money than has ever been spent historically,” said Mark McKinnon, a Republican advisor to Bush. Strategists from both political parties agree on the uselessness of the majority of the candidates’ spending.

“Nobody can sit here today, in what would otherwise be a close race, and say that extra million, $5 million, $10 million, $50 million might not make the difference of a few hundred votes in Florida, a few hundred votes in Ohio or Nevada,” said Mellman.

McKinnon, who was in charge of advertising in the 2002 and 2004 campaigns, is confident that three quarters of the money is “completely” wasted.

Still, the candidates continue to break fundraising records with each passing month. Romney recently announced that he raised $106 million for his campaign in June, overtaking his previous record of $77 million raised during the month of May.

But Obama holds several of his own records. By hosting six fundraising events in a single day, he is fiercely competing for a second term that he hopes his finances can deliver. The Obama Victory Fund expects to raise more than $7.2 million for the campaign.

To date, the U.S. president has spent nearly $100 million on television commercials, one fifth of which was spent in Ohio. Three quarters of these ads have been critical of Romney.

“Despite all of the negative advertising from the Obama campaign, polling numbers are exactly where they were before they started this onslaught,” the Romney campaign said in a memo.

While Obama and Romney continue to battle each other in spending, the poll numbers do not seem affected by most of their financial efforts. While total campaign finance estimates are wide-ranging, one thing is clear: this election will be the most expensive in U.S. history.

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