Don’t Be Afraid of Money in Politics

John Kramer
John Kramer · October 23, 2014

Arlington, VA–With both Halloween and Election Day right around the corner, the news is filled with scary-sounding reports about the amount of money being spent on political campaigns. But a little perspective demonstrates that campaign spending is no bogeyman: Americans spend more money on Halloween candy, parties and costumes than was spent by all federal candidates, PACs and party committees combined in the last presidential election cycle.

Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Paul Sherman said, “During the entire 2012 election cycle, Americans spent about $7 billion on political campaigning, but that is less than the $8 billion Americans spent that same year celebrating Halloween. The surprising fact about money in politics isn’t that Americans spend so much money on political campaigning, it’s that we spend so little compared to what we spend on things like candy corn and fake vampire teeth.”

Sherman concluded, “Despite the scare tactics of those who would limit political speech and participation, campaign spending is nothing to be afraid of. This money is spent persuading American voters about the most important issues of the day. In a democracy with more than 200 million voting-age citizens, the amount Americans spend on campaigns is neither scary nor unreasonable.”

Sources for these charts are: and

Founded in 1991, the Institute for Justice is the national law firm for liberty. It litigates nationwide in defense of free speech.