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Who’s paying for all that campaigning?

John Dimsdale Oct 24, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: Jet Blue up better than 5 percent today as Jeff alluded to. The other member of the go-slow club — WalMart — basically flat. Generally speaking, it was one of those wait-and-see days on Wall Street. Blame the Fed if you’re looking for a villain. They’re meeting on interest rates today and tomorrow. Not that anybody’s expecting a change in the costs of short-term borrowing.

This week’s Fed meeting is the last one before Election Day. There are only 13 campaigning days left until November 7th. Given how many competitive races there are this year, it’s no surprise this is shaping up to be the most expensive midterm election ever — $2.6 billion when all’s said and done. From Washington, Marketplace’s John Dimsdale has this look at who’s footing the bill.

JOHN DIMSDALE: Given the Democrats’ prospects of ending the GOP control of Congress, campaign fund-raising and spending is heading for a record for a non-presidential election. The experts are confident they can predict that, even tho their latest count only goes through the summer.

SHEILA KRUMHOLZ: We all feel the heat in this last month as we lead up to the election. It feels like a momentous election as compared to the last few.

Sheila Krumholz, with the Center for Responsive Politics, expects candidates and parties to spend 18 percent more this year than in 2002. That’s despite a new ban on soft-money contributions to political parties. Krumholtz says contributions from corporate and labor Political Action Committees have replaced much of the soft money. PACs have already distributed a billion dollars — 87% to incumbents.

KRUMHOLZ: PACs hedge their bets. They give cautiously. They like to give to incumbents because that’s a sure bet given our reelection rates.

Sitting Senators enjoy a four-to-one advantage over challengers. In House races, the ratio is seven to two.

The number one PAC contributor this election — as in the last four — is the National Association of Realtors. Seth Weinstein with New York’s Hannah Real Estate Investors says realtors are intent on preserving a Clinton-era tax law that allows homeowners to forego capital gains taxes on the sale of a house every five years.

SETH WEINSTEIN: It encourages people to turn over property more frequently, which the national Association of Realtors would be obviously in favor of because their members make their livelihood on commissions on real estate turnover.

Other leading contributors this year, as in the past, include lawyers and lawfirms, and brokers and banks.

In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

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