Campaign Spending

What They Could Have Bought: Better Uses for Campaign Spending

More than $4 billion blown on this election? Paula Froelich has a few better uses for all of that money.

It was the most expensive election year ever, with the estimates— between both Republicans and Democrats—that the campaigns spent upward of $4.2 billion on ads, promotions, and miscellaneous things.

When the numbers were announced this week—and they are still being tallied, with some suggesting the final cost could top $6 billion—jaws dropped. After all, didn’t both parties complain about wasteful government spending, while turning on the cash faucet for themselves? It makes Mitt Romney look silly for threatening to cut PBS’s paltry $445 million to help curb the deficit. Both parties claim to not want to cut defense spending (despite $6 billion in cash going missing in Iraq) and are looking for the ever-elusive “loopholes” to tie up in order to help the government run more efficiently. Yet they both spent like drunk Vegas clowns trying to get themselves elected.

And so, The Daily Beast is taking a look at the numbers—OK, maybe just the most staggering of the numbers—at what else the interested parties could have bought with their money, which would have had better returns.

$103 million

Karl Rove’s super PAC, American Crossroads, “had a success rate of just 1 percent on $103 million in attack ads—one of the lowest returns on investment of any outside spending group in this year’s elections,” according to NBC.

What Rover should’ve done with that money: bought 155,000 shares of Google, at $663 each. He’d have a huge stake in the world’s largest search engine. Now that’s power!

Or, he could have set up a Dr. Evil-like lair on his own private island where he and his cohorts could meet and come up with their plots—for $100 million he could’ve bought the largest private island in the Caribbean.

$50 million

The amount Linda McMahon spent trying to get elected to the Senate this year (or a total of $100 million, for her two failed bids).

McMahon could have saved herself the humiliation and bought herself a sure thing for just $30,000: a walk-on role in Annie the musical. Or a yacht—already appropriately named Lady Linda—for $50 million, which even has a helipad.

$36.7 million

The total that Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers’ super PAC, spent on the election, although they had pledged $60 million. Perhaps they saw how things were going and backed out.

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What they should’ve spent it on: 734 “girlfriend robots” (at $50,000 a pop). The Kochs could have built their own populace that would do everything they said and vote whichever way they wanted—that way, no one asks any pesky questions and they always do what they’re told.

$47.16 million

The amount paid to GMMB, a Washington ad firm run by Jim Margolis, Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign manager, to build and buy ads for the Obama campaign.

Democrats are always complaining about Fox News, so why not try to buy a stake and have some say? $47.16 million would have bought 1.9 million shares of News Corp. stock.

$41.85 million

Amount paid to American Rambler Productions LLC by the Romney campaign for campaign messaging and advertising.

New York Times stock. After Punch died, the Sulzberger clan sold off exactly $41 million in shares (hey, Pinch has to pay for those leadership courses somehow). The Romney campaign should’ve just taken a page out of Carlos Slim’s playbook and helped the family out. After all, it was the only major New York paper to endorse Obama. And they wouldn’t have done that to a family friend …

$100 million

The amount John Paulson’s Restore Our Future super PAC spent trying to elect Romney.

What he should’ve spent it on: Prospect Park. Paulson just gave $100 million to Central Park. Why not spruce up the Brooklyn spot as well? Beautify the whole city!

Or better yet, Hurricane Sandy relief. Just think of how many houses, generators, blankets, and food that $100 million would have provided for people in Queens and Staten Island.

$4.2 billion

The early total election-spending estimate. Instead of a campaign that beat us all over the head for a whole year, the parties could have shown some serious bipartisanship and spent the money on these investments, which would have had a hell of a lot better return than a bunch of pissed-off voters.

The Yankees. Worth: $4 billion. So they didn’t go to the World Series this year. They’re still hot and, even better, they’re profitable.

Or they could’ve bought LucasFilm (instead of Disney, which shelled out $4 billion for it) and made sure no Ewoks or Jar Jars come back. Ever.