US presidential campaign revs up 17 months before polls

2015-06-24 14:01


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - The US presidential election is still over 17 months away, but millions of dollars are already flowing into political war chests in what may be America's most costly contest for the White House.

Campaigns are already grinding toward full throttle with more than seven months before the first of the state-by-state primary elections and caucuses and the hectic pace is not likely to let up before next summer's national party conventions.

What explains the extended US campaign season?

In the parliamentary systems that govern most developed countries, sitting legislators representing the political parties choose their leader. That person becomes prime minister. National laws limit campaigning to just weeks or a few months.

Not so in the American system.

"For foreigners it's all strange. They think that everything is money in America. It's all about campaign finance and that people are being bought. And, of course, sometimes that happens. But it's much more complex than that," said James Thurber, director of American University's Centre for Congressional and Presidential Studies.

While candidates might prefer to hold back the start of campaigns, none of them can take the chance of being left behind. Once one candidate starts the race, others know they have to join in.

Former-Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the brother of one president and son of another, declared his interest in running in December, propelling other Republicans to start their campaigns.

But Bush only officially joined the race last week, waiting until 10 other candidates had announced, to avoid fund-raising strictures that apply to declared candidates as opposed to those who are just considering a run. In the latter case, collecting money as a possible candidate is restrained only by how much donors are willing to chip in.

Modest field

The Democrats are fielding a more modest field, led by Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state, New York Senator and first lady to Bill Clinton. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who votes with the Democrats, has enjoyed a surprisingly fast start against Clinton, drawing big crowds to campaign events.

But Clinton commands a formidable lead in fund raising and is still the prohibitive Democratic favourite for the nomination in a contest that also includes former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley and Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee.

"There's a whole lot of money that has nothing to do with [federal] campaign finance [laws] that is being used in coalition building, grass roots, top roots, advertising, social media." Thurber said

That's especially so in money spent on get-out-the-vote cadres, who can lead to victory in close elections. The percentage of eligible Americans who cast ballots in the 2012 election that returned President Barack Obama to the White House was just 58.2%.

Read more on:    hillary clinton  |  us  |  us 2016 elections

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.