Candidates poised to tap general election money

News media report on the unveiling of the stage inside of the Tampa Bay Times Forum in preparation for the Republican National Convention on August 20, 2012 in Tampa, Fla. Thousands will decend on Tampa for the four-day convention which takes place August 27-30.

Tess Vigeland: Mitt Romney could accept the GOP nomination for president as early as Monday. It's the first day of the Republican National Convention. It'll be big day for the governor -- childhood dream come true, political aspirations realized -- AND millions and million of dollars finally unleashed for spending in the general election.

The delay is part of federal election law. For his part, President Obama must also wait until he officially accepts the Democratic party nomination. Sabri Ben-Achour reports from our Washington bureau.


Sabri Ben-Achour: Steve Ansolabehere teaches government at Harvard. He says if you think you've seen enough political ads already, just wait.

Steve Ansolabehere: We're going to see a lot more advertising to sway the people who are not yet decided.

And Bill Allison with the Sunlight Foundation says get ready for a legion of door-knockers and data miners too.

Bill Allison: Getting voters to the polls, canvassing operations, and they also have data crunching operations to try to identify likely voters, they buy all kinds of consumer data.

But that's all par for the course. This year is different not necessarily in what the candidates spend on, but how much they'll spend.

Michael Toner: The first time since 1972, both major party nominees are operating outside the public financing system for the general election.

Michael Toner is a partner at Wiley Rein and used to chair the FEC.

Toner: So both candidates will be able to raise as much money as they can.

You know how many fundraising events for his campaign Ronald Reagan went to in 1984?

Toner: Zero. Fundraising events -- a very different era.

It's easier to raise more money in 2012 too. Contribution limits have gone up -- they're indexed to inflation now. And all those pleas for cash from the candidates are now on top of the hundreds of millions that like-minded super PACS have been raising. So When the post convention floodgates of cash open, we're looking at an estimated $2.5 billion of spending by both candidates by November.

But to put that in perspective, Americans spent $7 billion on potato chips last year.

I'm Sabri Ben-Achour for Marktplace.

About the author

Sabri Ben-Achour is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the New York City bureau. He covers Wall Street, finance, and anything New York and money related.

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