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Previous Section: Electoral College




Financing is very important to campaigns.  Candidates raise money for their campaigns and without financial support from other groups, candidates would have to drop out of races, since campaigning is so costly.


Who are the supporting staff?

The support staff includes resource to hire consultants, pollsters, advertisting agencies, and many others.  Candidiates must be able to raise money for their campaigns and do so with the help of their supporting staff.


Presidential Campaigns:

Some candidates running for president will receive federal funding if they meet certain prerequisites.  If the candidate receives more than 10 percent of the vote in an election, then he may apply for federal mathcing funds which double all campaign contributions of $250 or more by matching them.  To get these matching funds, the candidate must agree to obey federal spending limites.  In 2008, the federal spending limit was $442.05 million for the primary elections and $84.1 million for the general elections.  If the candidate recieves less than 10 percent of the vote in two consecutive primaries, he loses his ability to apply for matching funds until he wins more than 10 percent of the vote in another primary.


Federal government funds the general election campagins of the two major presidential candidates.  The candidates must agree not to accept and spend other donations.  There is an exception that allows the candidates to use up $50,000 of his own money.  In 2004, both party nominees decided not to use matching funds during the primaries.  Also, independents do not receive federal funding.


Congressional Campaigns:

For congressional campaigns, there is no public financing and there is no limit on spending for the campaigning.


Financial Trends:

There are some trends in finance for campaigning.  There is a trend toward high levels of election spending.  This trend has continued through the early 1900s into present day.  For example, in 2004, George Bush raised $227.5 million and John Kerry raised $250.3 million.  This was the most expensive presidential race in history.  Both Bush and Kerry did not use matching funds, meaning there was no limit on how much money they could raise.


Individual and Political Committees:

There are limits on how much individual and political action committees (PACs) may give to candidates.  These limits are established by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) and enforced by the Federal Election Commission.  Some critics believe that the current campaign finance system has a corrupting effect.  Some have tried to change the system in the past.  For example, in 1976, the Buckley v. Valeo case, states that mandatory spending limits on campaigns violated candidates' First Amendment rights to free expression.  Legislators are now worried about making changes to the campaign finance system and how it would affect their reelection.


This Table helps explain the limits of individual and political action committes: 

  To a Candidate To a National Party To a Political Committee Total per 2 Caldendar Years
Individual may give $2,300 $28,500 $5,000 $108,200
PAC may give $5,000 $15,000 $5,000 NO LIMIT
Non-PAC committee may give $2,300 $28,500 $5,000 $108,200

* Table is from the AP U.S. Government and Politics Book


Political Action Committees (PACs):

In 1974, the Federal Election Campaign Act was passed.  This act allows corporations, unions, and trade associations to form PACs in order to raise campaign funds, but limits the amount they can give to a given candidate in a given election year.

Restrictions on PACs:

1. Money must be raised by at least 50 contributors.

2. PACs must donate to at least 5 different candidates.

3. PACs can't donate more than $5,000 per year to any one candidate.

4. PACs can't donate more than $15,000 to a national party per year.

5. PACs must raise money from employees and member and can't take money from their treasuries.


527 Groups:

These are tax-exempt groups that are organized under section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code.  These groups raise money for political activities, including issue advocacy, but they don't give money directly to a candidate.  They were created to get around the funding limits set in the McCain-Feingold Act of 2002.  One example of a 527 group is the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth which began in 2004 in response to Senator John F. Kerry's comments regarding his war record.  The group challenged Kerry's fitness to serve as president.


Soft Money v. Hard Money: 

Soft money and hard money are just ways in which candidates get campaign money.  The following chart explains the differences between the two.


Soft Money v. Hard Money

  Soft Money: Hard Money:
Raised by:

political paries

(money is a combination of individuals',

corporations', PACs' and other's money)

individuals of PACs

money may only be used for "party-building"

activities (voter registration drives, advocating the passage of an issue of law, discussion of another candidate's record)

set guidlines by the Federal

Elections Commission


no limit on the amount of cash allowed to be raised for issue advocacy or party building activities (cash is not allowed for advocating the express

election or defeat of a candidate)

placed upon the amounts an indvidual

of a PAC may give (money can only be used for the sole purpose in the campaign)


The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, also known as the McCain-Feingold Bill, banned softy money contributions to national political parties and set a $2,000 limit on hard money.  Opponents of this act have managed to create loop-holes through certain amendments.





“McCain-Feingold Act” Discussion and Encyclopedia Article. Who is McCain-Feingold, http://www.knowledgerush.com/kr/encyclopedia/McCain-Feingold_Act.html>

          (11 December 2009).


Meltzer, Tony and Paul Levy, eds., Cracking the AP U.S. Government & Politics Exam 2010

            Edition. New York: Random House, Inc., 2009.



“Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” May 2004, http://www.wintersoldier.com/index/php?topic=Swiftvets.html> (12 December 2009).


“Types of Advocacy Groups” OpenSecrets.org Center for Responsive Politicshttp://www.opensecrets.org/527s/types/php> (12 December 2009).


Chart 1: 

Meltzer, Tony and Paul Levy, eds., Cracking the AP U.S. Government & Politics Exam 2010

            Edition. New York: Random House, Inc., 2009. 

Next Section: Voter Participation

Comments (1)

mberry said

at 9:51 am on Nov 17, 2009

I don't think buses and jets are "staff" tee hee -- reword a bit! There are sort of spending limits for ALL federal campaigns because of the limits on contributions found in FECA and McCain-Feingold! A few typos here -- proof carefully! We will see what others think, but I LOVE the colored font EXCEPT the orange (which I find hard to read)!

NEED to discuss 527s (which arose in response to McCain_Feingold). BEst example is Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that I showed you during lecture!

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