Campaign funding became all the more relevant after the Iowa caucuses Monday night with Sen. Ted Cruz’s win and Sen. Bernie Sanders’ virtual tie with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Sanders, D-Vt., has raised nearly $75 million through crowd-sourced donations for his presidential campaign, with only $25,000 in super PAC’s. Cruz’s, R-Texas, has raised $47 million, with $39 million in super PAC’s.
“The Citizens United ruling in 2010 really was a major turn in how we do elections,” said Dr. Patrick Flavin, a political science assistant professor and expert in the campaign funding process.
Super PAC’s became a means for individuals to raise money for or against a candidate in the 2010 ruling Citizens United vs. FEC.
The Federal Election Commission, FEC, is responsible for the regulations of campaign financing, especially when dealing with super PAC’s.
The FEC website states that individual expenditures and super PAC’s “may not be made in concert or cooperation with, or at the request or suggestion of, a candidate, the candidate’s campaign or a political party.”
“[Voters] are being fed things that corporations are basically making up. Unfortunately that leads to a misinformed electorate, which is even worse than an uninformed electorate,” Fort Worth senior Laura Mahler said.
Though some believe the regulations are too vague, and candidates are still able to be bought out, Omaha, Neb. graduate student Jordan Cash believes there has been “Money in politics as long as there has been politics.”
“This is just a new avenue for it — it’s not that different from the way things have always been. And if money wasn’t affecting politics this way, it would affect it another way.”
But super PAC’s are not the only means of getting traction as a presidential candidate. Billionaire Donald Trump has paid for his campaign with his own money.
“It certainly allows him to spend less time fundraising, and more time holding events where he tells people what he stands for,” Flavin said.
Trump can speak freely on immigration and refuse to use a teleprompter without fear of losing donors because he funds his own campaign.
On the other end of the spectrum, Sanders relies entirely on crowd sourced donations. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, a research group that tracks campaign dollars, 73 percent of Sanders’ funds have come from small donations.
“I really like Bernie’s approach: asking people to donate to his campaign,” said Mahler, who is a Bernie Sanders advocate. “He is being supported by both individuals — people who can actually go out and vote — and he is being supported by things like labor unions, which are largely a voice for the people rather than a voice for corporate interest.”
“In terms of getting people involved in the democratic process, I think [Sanders] has shown that his supporters are the most excited,” Cash said.
Though differing in finding funds, all presidential candidates are striving towards the same seat. Whether paid for by super PAC’s or crowd funding, Baylor students, along with the rest of America, will decide who is best suited for the position come Nov. 8.