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Money is so important in political campaigns because money reaches the voters. Not only does money pay advertising costs and staffing costs, it pays transportation and lodging and related cost so the candidate can get to the voters to be available to present a message.
Campaigning is an expensive endeavor. Usually, candidates are either independently wealthy or supported by those who are. Traveling across the country, ads, and other necessities of campaigning are expensive. Running a campaign also has a lot of expenses that the public doesn't usually think about. Each candidate has a campaign manager as well as dozens of people working behind the scenes to promote their candidate. These people all have to be paid and the work they do also costs money. The campaign will need facilities and offices for the people as they work. Some candidates have turned to facebook, email, and other free social media, but that doesn't mean it is really free. The candidate will have to pay someone to run their site, post messages on facebook, and write the emails. They will likely have an entire team of paid employees working on free networks.
I think the USA is a supreme case of why money is so necessary thanks to the huge avalanche of political advertisements that viewers are bombarded with come election time. Money is essential in terms of buying media time which in turn can help project a certain image of a political candidate that will make the public want to vote for them. In our media age, we have to be aware of the way in which media plays such an important part in moulding our thoughts and perceptions.
Consider the cost it takes to refute negative advertisement. In the U.S., it is common practice to put out negative ads about your opponent, true or false, and even though you might not have any evidence, we make it incumbent on the opponent to refute the claims at an enormous waste of expense and time. If political figures devoted their time to promoting their own positive images, and we didn't automatically believe everything we see on TV, a lot of money would be freed up for other political uses.
Money is especially important in American elections for all the reasons mentioned above. In the U. S., the campaign season (as we are currently witnessing once again) is so long that in some ways it never ends. The Republican presidential candidates have been debating for months now, and both the conventional wisdom as well as state primary laws make it almost impossible for presidential candidates to delay much beyond October of the year before a presidential election before committing themselves to run. In other countries (such as the United Kingdom), the election season is very compressed. Thus, less money is presumably necessary to mount an election campaign than in such countries than in the U. S.
Advertising is the main reason for national political campaign big bucks, but let's not forget travelling in first class or by private jet; eating in fine restaurants; staying in first class hotels; dressing the entire entourage in designer clothing; and providing first class perks for important supporters. Candidates believe they can't appear to be anything but the best possible choice, so they surround themselves with luxuries to further illustrate the point. And why not, with matching federal funds to help foot the bill?
As said by 2 and 3 money is needed for campaign staff and expenses and media ads.
In a national campaign, the candidate who spends the most on TV spots usually wins. Television advertising is by and large the major expenditure in a national campaign.
In local, small town elections, money is not quite so important, unless the candidate doesn't have enough to print lawn signs. Most local campaigns don't use television. It seems to me that the winner in small towns is the one with the most lawn signs. I'm not sure if the number of signs causes the win, or the number of people willing to display signs indicates a majority support.
Candidates reach potential voters buy buying advertising space and traveling the nation to meet citizens. Without the money to support their campaign, they cannot advertise themselves and make themselves known to the voting public. Candidates use debate platforms and interviews to reach the public as well.
It's important because you have to have money to buy TV ads, to pay your campaign staff, etc. Without money, you can't do things like polling people or buying data about them so that you can know who might vote for you. Even if you know who might vote for you, you can't pay for the phone banks or the TV ads needed to get your message out to those people. Money drives the process because it's needed in order to identify and reach potential voters.
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