The Role Of Money In Politics: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, And Bernie Sanders

If we look back to 2016 during the election campaigns, we’ll see the different tactics and methods that candidates used in order to get money for their campaigns, and what ended up working for them the best. The question to be thinking about is whether or not money is what gets someone elected. Although money is a huge factor when running for president, it’s interesting to see if it becomes the most important factor or not, and if someone can just buy their way into the presidency.

Since 2011, Donald Trump has switched from being a part of the Democratic Party to being part of the Republican Party. On, it is stated that, “Donald Trump donated $175,860 more to Democrats than Republicans from 1989 to 2010, but in 2011 his giving to Democrats significantly decreased. From 2011 to 2015, Republicans received $630,150 in donations from Trump, while Democrats received just $8,500”. Although no one knows exactly why Donald Trump decided to switch to the Republican Party, he had been supporting the Democratic Party for years and years so it comes as a bit of a surprise. Either way, Trump has had a lot of success with donating to Republicans, and also raised a lot of money for his campaign in 2016. The total money raised for Donald Trump’s campaign committee was $333,127,164 and $325,515,461 of it was spent. In addition, he wasn’t in debt at all, and 25.93% of the funds came from Small Individual Contributions of $200 or less, amounting to $86,749,927 total. However, 40.24% of the funds came from other ways, which amounted to a total of $134,607,903. Those two sources were the biggest contributors to the campaign, and more money came from those sources than other one's such as PAC contributions and candidate self-financing.

From the CQ Researcher under “Campaign Finance,' it was said that, “The super-rich also can finance their own campaigns. By April 21, for instance, Trump had contributed or lent $36 million to his campaign committee, which also received more than $12 million in individual contributions from small and large donors”. Donald Trump is a very wealthy businessman, and he actually gave $66,141,713 to his own campaign. That’s quite a lot when it comes to candidate self-financing, and most other candidates have not had money of their own to put into their campaign. This makes it interesting considering that Donald Trump gave a big chunk of his money into the campaign, yet didn’t have the most money during the 2016 campaign, as Hillary Clinton ended up having more, but didn’t win the election.

Moving on to Hillary Clinton’s data, it’s important to know that she raised the most money out of all the candidates during the 2016 election. The total amount she raised ended up being $563,756,928. The amount that was spent was $563,433,611, but there ended up being $183 in debts somehow. Hillary Clinton has been actively engaged in politics quite significantly since 1991, as well as her husband and former president of America, Bill Clinton. “In 2000, Clinton ran a successful campaign for the U.S. Senate in New York, becoming the only first lady to win an elective office. She served on the Senate Armed Services Committee, worked to secure billions in emergency funds for New York in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, and backed a resolution to authorize the military forces in Iraq in 2002”. Hillary has involved herself in many political events in the past and present. She has also ran for president twice, the first time being the 2008 election, which she lost to Barack Obama, and the second time being the 2016 election, this time losing to Donald Trump. Again, she had a lot more money than Trump and other candidates during the campaign in 2016 yet it didn’t mean anything as Donald Trump won instead. 52.67% of the funds came from Large Individual Contributions amounting to $300,111,643 total. The second highest percentage of money contributions came from “other” which was 28.23%, adding to $160,851,203. Unlike Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton didn’t have nearly as much self- financed money towards her campaign. Instead, only $1,450,335 of her money was given to the campaign, whereas Donald Trump had $66,141,713. It’s interesting to look at the contrast between these two politicians when it comes to their different ways in raising money for their campaigns.

As for Bernie Sanders, he didn’t have quite as much money as Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in the 2016 campaign. The total amount of money he ended up having in his campaign was $228,164,501 and $222,709,340 of that was spent, but for some reason he was $449,409 in debt. 57.70% of the funds came from Small Individual Contributions of $200 or less, amounting to $134,669,942 total. 41.62% of the funds came from Large Individual Contributions, and those added up to $97,145,068. Those two sources were the biggest contributors to the campaign, and none of the funds in his campaign committee were self-financed. What’s interesting about Bernie Sanders is that, “he’s a self-identified democratic socialist and represents his state as an independent, not a Republican or Democrat (though he caucuses with the Democrats)” and “Sanders served in the House of Representatives for 16 years, making him the longest-serving independent member of Congress in history”. Even though he leans more with the Democratic Party, it’s not often that a politician is an independent.

Between the three candidates, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Bernie Sanders, there are many differences when it comes to the ways they decided to raise money for their campaigns. What sticks out most for Donald Trump’s campaign was that he self-financed a lot of money because he is wealthy, although it wasn’t as much money that was raised through Small Individual Contributions or from other ways. Hillary Clinton would get most of her money through Large Individual Contributions, and not much of the money was self-financed. Lastly, Bernie Sanders got most of the money from Small and Large Individual Contributions, without self-financing any money to his campaign.

All in all, it is easy to see how money can be quite an important thing to have when running for president, especially when considering things such as advertising, venues, as well as travel, but it isn’t always what gets a person elected. Donald Trump showed us this because he had a lower budget and still won the election. The argument today is that there shouldn’t be so much money put into campaigns for presidential elections because then it’s as if someone could just buy their way into presidency. That can be very true in some cases, because a lot of money will pay for some of the best advertisements and a lot more, but in Donald Trump’s case, he didn’t have the most money, but he still had a lot of support and ended up winning anyway. 

09 March 2021
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