Broken Barometer

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Gerard Wright at the Syndey Morning Herald raises an eyebrow at the cost of the American presidential race as the estimated cost continues to rise. Zeroing in on the immediate "campign in trouble" outcry after Hillary Clinton loaned her own campaign money the article examines money as a "barometer" of public support.

After Super Tuesday, the race was on to establish financial dominance:

The subtext of every political campaign is not just vote for me, but give to me. The individual limit for presidential primary candidates is $US2300 ($2570), with the same amount for the presidential election campaign, and the candidates know how to shake that tree until the last dollar has fallen.

Clinton's temporary financial embarrassment, which forced her to lend her campaign $US5 million of her own money, was a reminder of the soaring price of US democracy. The 2004 presidential campaign cost $US720 million. That figure had already been approached by the end of last year, when candidates from both parties had already raised $US583 million - $US264 million by Republicans, $US319 million by Democrats.

And what of a candidate who is unable or unwilling to play the big money fundraising game and wants to opt in to the presidential public financing program:

Greenberg, who worked on the presidential campaigns of Bill Clinton in 1992 and Al Gore in 2000, says this is no alternative: "No one at this point would be taken seriously if they took public financing because you can raise such a tremendous amount of money [privately]."

Instead, private money serves as a barometer, albeit one that tells you about the weather after it has arrived.

Well, a barometer on the support of the very small percentage of the population that gives political donations to the remaining candidates in a hugely expensive race in which candidates without access to big donors were written off from the start...