Almost $4 billion worth of bumper stickers and attack ads

By Katharine Mieszkowski
Published October 22, 2004 2:39PM (EDT)

All the campaign hoopla this election season will come with a staggering $3.9 billion price tag, according to an estimate released Thursday by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, which monitors money in politics. The presidential contest alone will cost in excess of $1.2 billion with congressional races making up the rest of the tab.

That's a 30 percent increase over just four years ago. The biggest source: individual contributions, which will total some $2.5 billion by the end of this election season, the Center estimates, with women making up a bigger chunk of those givers than any election since 1989. The largest growth spurt in women's contributions has been to political parties; this election season, women gave approximately 29.2 percent of the money that the parties have raised in amounts over $200, compared with just 23.3 percent in the 2000 cycle. But before anyone starts heralding a "vote-your-vagina" revolution in campaign contributions, the Center had this explanation for why that might be: "One reason for the change could be the ban on soft money contributions to the political parties. Women used to give a lower proportion of soft money than they gave of hard money, suggesting that when limits are in place, contributions from wealthy income-earners are often bolstered by donations from their spouses."

Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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