Politics looks like a recession-proof industry. With campaign finance rules gutted by the Supreme Court, money is flooding into this year’s election. House and Senate candidates have raised $1.2 billion so far, putting them on a record-setting pace. Gubernatorial races are just as pricey; Meg Whitman alone has pumped $104 million into her campaign. “We may be on track for the most expensive cycle ever, even more than ’08, which is really hard to believe,” one former FEC chairman tells the AP.
That’s in part because there are an unusually high number of competitive races, and in part because recent court decisions have allowed corporations and individuals to spend as much as they please on independent ads. Many corporations, however, are avoiding outright politicking, instead handing money to groups like the US Chamber of Commerce. “The whole notion of 'Vote against Snodgrass by Gillette shaving cream'—it's just not going to happen,” says one political scientist.