Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on elections every even year
in the United States of America. While candidates in presidential elections
tend to spend roughly the same amount of money on their campaigns, there
are sometimes huge disparities between congressional candidates. In general,
incumbents raise money much more easily than challengers.
In 1998, House and Senate incumbents raised and spent more than $470 million
on their campaigns compared to only the $134 million spent by challengers.
The nearly four to one spending advantage of incumbents over challengers
is facilitated in large part by a huge advantage in raising money from
political action committees (PACs), the divisions of interest groups that
are legally registered and authorized to donate money to candidates for
federal office. In 1998, incumbents raised nearly ten times as much as
challengers from PACs, or about 85% of all PAC money that was donated.