Superficial Needs: The Significance of Money on Presidential Elections

Essay by topdogg19High School, 12th gradeA+, February 2004

download word file, 7 pages 4.0

Money has always been important in politics. However, over the years, money has been relatively downplayed, leading to the question: exactly what role does money play in the election of the president? The reality is that while presidential elections today rely on money to a considerable extent, money does not necessarily determine the final outcome of elections. More specifically, as time has progressed, the role of money in presidential elections has gone on a general decline, and other factors, such as the understanding of issues, incumbency, and charisma have increased in importance.

In past history, the great significance of money in election campaigns has been well-documented. In the 19th century, money was perhaps the deciding factor of elections; Stephen Douglas' losing campaign of 1860 is largely attributed to his inadequate fund raising skills (Euchner 54). With the turn of the 20th century, money continued to pour in from all aspects- personal wealth, individual contributions, and political party contributions, to name a few major ones.

The swelled significance of material revenue, however, was due to the fact that the amount of money contributions was not limited, thereby allowing candidates to receive exorbitant contributions from each respective contributor. In this sense, the incumbent usually won an amazing advantage, as he or she usually had the full support of the political parties and many other groups as well.

The Federal Corrupt Practices Act was passed in 1910 to put a restriction on the dependence of money in election campaigns. More importantly, it required committees and candidates "which shall in two or more states... attempt to influence the result" of House races to make available a comprehensive record of all campaign finance transactions ("Foreign"), specifically the names and addresses of donors contributing $100 or more. While this proved to be an important stride in...