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- Pre Iowa Caucus Projections. -

How much money will be spent on the Iowa Caucuses?

With the Iowa Caucus positioned to be the first caucus in the nation for the 2008  presidential race, and with this being the first presidential election since 1928* in which neither party is actively promoting a sitting president or vice president for the election, the significance is big...and the dollars spent will echo that sentiment. Each presidential candidate, on average, could spend anywhere from $1,674,000.00 to $5,022,000.00 just to ensure a finish within the top half of the Iowa Caucuses. With an approximate total of 20 candidates representing both parties, the total amount of spending by the candidates for the Iowa Caucus could reach as high as $23,436,000.00 and beyond $30,132,000.00 - and this is a conservative estimate. 
*The 1928 election was between Herbert C. Hoover and Alfred E. Smith because neither the standing President nor the Vice President chose to run. However, in 1952, the new President elect would be subject to the 22nd Amendment that  limited the Presidents office to  only 8 years. The sitting President, Harry S. Truman, was allowed to proceed with a third term as President, however, he abandoned his campaign after the 1952 New Hampshire primary when he lost to Estes Kefauver.

The aforementioned spending prediction is based upon the estimate of the 2004 presidential election nationwide.  The cost for both parties was almost half a billion dollars for their combined receipts for just the primary campaigns, and this figure doesn't include general elections or conventions, according to the Federal Election Commission. With that being the case, each candidate would have spent close to $240,000,000.00 nationwide.  

According to the U.S. Censes Bureau, the total number of Americans eligible to vote in 2004 was around 215,694,000 and only 142,070,000 registered to vote in 2004.  Therefore, roughly .90 cents was spent per eligible voter nationwide, whether they voted or not, and around $1.59 was spent per registered voter, all for the sake of grabbing the potential voters attention and, hopefully, persuading them to vote a particular way. 

The U.S. Censes Bureau reports the current registered-to-vote population of Iowa to be approximately 1,674,000 citizens out of a total population of 2,982,085.  Iowa ranks 30th  in population size in the United States. Therefore, using a conservative estimate on dollars spent nationwide for the presidential campaign of 2004, each candidate would have spent between $1.00 to $1.50 per registered Iowa voter. That would mean that the candidates who campaign in Iowa could be spending anywhere from $1,674,000.00 to $2,661,660.00 or greater to show well in the Iowa Caucuses. 
(See Voting Population
(See Iowa Population

What are the candidates campaign funds spent on for the Iowa Caucuses? 

Judging by the recent caucuses of 2004, and from discussions with Iowa residents, allot of the money appears to be spent on television and radio ads, automated phone calls and person-to-person telephone solicitations to registered party members, and direct mailers reminding registered party members about upcoming meetings and gatherings. The event that seems to garner the most free press would probably be the good old fashioned assembly hall type meeting where a candidate makes a scheduled visit to a particular Iowa community.  Typically, the meeting takes place at a local High School or University, Hotel Conference Center, or other public building in order to draw a crowd to allow the candidate to move freely amongst the public, shaking hands, answering questions, discussing platform issues, and, hopefully, inspiring fund raisers to assist with campaign donations.  Most all candidates receive air time because, even if they are the new guy on the block, Iowans tend to have a curious nature and, coupled with a typical upbringing of good manners and hospitableness, enjoy engaging others in discussions on political and social issues. And in the end, let's face it, there are no oceans to swim, mountains to climb, or mega-malls to shop, so candidates have a captive audience for the most part. 
(See IA Funds Raised

Do the campaign funds spent on the Iowa Caucuses have an effect on voters? 

Television ads promoted in Iowa are an excellent avenue of advertisement for relatively unknown candidates to generate a buzz of inquiry and discussion about themselves at the family dinner table.  Word-of-mouth takes over as the candidate buzz spreads from one family to another, and from one friend to another, and from one colleague to another.  In 2004, only the Democrats held a competitive caucus for  nomination to the White House. During that caucus, some of the candidates spent close to one million in advertisements in Iowa alone just to get their name out.  Some of those candidates, such as John Edwards and Howard Dean, were not even well known until their ads aired in Iowa.

How much money can one person contribute? 

The Federal Election Commission is best suited to quote contribution amounts and limits on those amounts.  The agency has put together the guidelines for contribution rates per individual citizen and per committee.


What are the projections for new promotional spending?

Judging by the number of candidates since 2004 who are using the Internet to announce their intentions to set up an exploratory committee to run for president in 2008, the Internet will be a huge growth area for individual candidates to gather support and provide information about themselves. The Internet does provide one benefit to the candidates and that is instant publishing. This allows the candidate to push their political opinions and to respond quickly to criticism from their opponents before even the newspapers and news programs on television can get the full response. This is the first time in history where each candidate can have at their disposal new technologies that allow them to publish their own articles and information quickly and without all the printing and distribution cost of mailings. 

What are the projections of what we will not see?

It is doubtful that we will see any action figures of politicians anytime soon. Unlike the Minnesota campaign of 1998, when Jesse Ventura ran for governor and ran commercials introducing his own action figure, I wouldn't count on any of the current candidates tapping into the nonexistent political action figure niche to promote their campaign.   

Is the Iowa Caucus important in this process? 

The caucuses are primarily for the Democratic and Republican parties. In the last 30+ years, starting in the 1970s when Iowa moved its caucus to be the first caucus in the nation, Iowa has become a predictor in identifying the top three candidates from both parties.  Only those candidates who finish in the top half of their party typically move on to campaign strong in other states. In fact, in the past, the Iowa Caucuses have become more of a clearing field in determining which candidates will stay in the race and which candidates will throw in the towel. This would appear to be a more accurate depiction of Iowa's role in the presidential campaigns than in determining which candidate will be nominated by their respective party. Iowa does play a big part in allowing candidates a chance to showcase their political prowess to a fairly middle of the road state.  

Iowa appears to be picking up on the nation's mood as a whole because, for the last 9 Iowa Caucuses, Iowa has identified the nation's two primary picks for the top runner from both the Democratic and Republican party in 5 out of 9 caucuses.  However, as time goes on, the importance of Iowa may become more significant to the individual candidates running for president than to their individual party simply because it may be cheaper to campaign in Iowa than in many of the other states entertaining the notion of scheduling their primaries closer to the Iowa Caucus. A win in an early state that is cheaper to campaign in gives an advantage to those candidates who would normally not have the funds to campaign in a larger state. Larger states will cost the candidates a greater amount of upfront capital to campaign per registered voter. In addition, Iowa has its population clustered into regions within the state, which makes it easier to reach potential audiences. Campaigning in a state like Iowa has advantages over larger states because their media outlets will focus on candidates as though they were celebrities, giving them free press and headline news, whereas other states would continue to cater to local celebrities, athletes, and business leaders, giving them the coverage and headline news, which would overshadow a political campaign candidate.

Finally, Iowa and other states of similar size are playing a larger role in close elections because of the electoral college. In 2000, the difference between the winner and loser was only 5 electoral votes, which means states like Arkansas,  Tennessee, and Iowa can change an election outcome drastically.    

We thank the following resources

National Archives
Federal Election Commission
U.S. Census Bureau
Wisconsin Advertising Project
C-SPAN Electoral College
e-JournalUSA 2004 Electoral College Article

Current Money Raised and Spent


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