The estimated price tag for the US elections in November is almost $6bn (£3.8bn). Why so much? “The sky is the limit here,” says Michael Toner, former chair of the US Federal Election Commission. “I don’t think you can spend too much.” In a time of general belt-tightening, it may sound like a surprising argument, but Toner believes there should be more – not less – spending on US elections. Anything that engages voters, and makes them more likely to turn out is, he says, a good thing. “It’s very healthy in terms of American politics… it’s a symptom of a very vigorous election season, there’s a lot at stake here.” … New figures just released by the Center for Responsive Politics, an independent research group which tracks money in politics, estimate the total cost of November’s elections (for the presidency, House of Representatives and Senate) will come in at $5.8bn (£3.7bn) – more than the entire annual GDP of Malawi, and up 7% on 2008. It makes UK election spending look microscopic by comparison. A total of £31m ($49m) was spent by all parties in the last general election in the UK two years ago – making US spending 120 times as much, and 23 times as much per person.
“You could say we’ve gotten into a crazy world, where the cost of elections has sky-rocketed, and that we are in a wacko world of crazy spending,” says Michael Franz, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, which tracks political ads. But, he says, “it all depends what apples and oranges you want to compare”. Franz argues that US elections are “relatively cheap” when compared with spending on, for example, the US military operation in Afghanistan. Michael Toner has his own favourite analogy: “Americans last year spent over $7bn [£4.5bn] on potato chips – isn’t the leader of the free world worth at least that?”
Full Article: BBC News – US election: How can it cost $6bn?.