Billion Election Race: A Sign of 'Nastier' Things to Come? (La Stampa, Italy)
"Now that this
campaign is history, understanding if and whether it will change the future of
political communication will be left to analysis. A first indicator of things
to come can already be seen: even in the age of social media, election campaigns
continue to pour most of their money into television - and it seems they are
becoming increasingly nasty."
President Obama breaks down before campaign workers in Chicago: The amount of money expended on politicking in 2012 dwarfs the amounts spent during election cycles going back to the ancient Greeks. The question is, what will it herald?
Two safes worth $1 billion each, available to Obama and
Romney, to demolish their opponent with. The most expensive election campaign in history
was also one of the most virulent in decades. Between money raised by the
candidates ($1 billion each) and pressure groups associated with them, funding
for races in both the House and Senate, over $5 billion was poured by politic
campaigns into TV, newspapers, the Web and social media during this round of
voting. A huge amount of money served to trying to steer the choices of over
130 million Americans expected to vote. And often, the messages Republicans and
Democrats used to gain their consent were marked by strong, targeted attacks.
Mindful of the years Karl Rove, strategist for George W.
Bush, played hard to take out opponents like Al Gore and John Kerry, this time Democrats
set aside Obama's largely positive 2008 campaign and adapted to the challenge.
The "dirty" was often done by Vice President Joe Biden, who painted
Romney as a puppet in the hands of Wall Street. "Romney, in his firsts 100
days," Biden said repeatedly, "will again hand power to the banks. Watch
out Americans, or you’ll be back in chains" (a joke that created some
problems before African-American audiences). Biden, famed for his catchphrases
and gaffes, summed up the achievements of the Obama presidency with the formula:
"Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive." And when
Romney found himself in trouble for a video that circulated in which he judged 47
percent of voters "unpersuadable," it was Biden who sank his teeth in on behalf of
On the other hand, the game of hardball was most
spectacular. One of the symbolic images of this campaign will be of Clint
Eastwood speaking to an empty chair at the Republican Convention to reproach an
invisible Obama for being what he considered too weak.
Romney drew the ire of Democrats by repeating around the
country that Obama had "robbed" $700 billion from the Medicare system
"to pay for Obamacare," the president's
health reform so hated by Republicans. It is a charge that the White House vehemently
rejected, as it did Romney’s attack in the last week of the campaign that after
saving them with public money, Obama was allowing them to "ship jobs to
China." Indeed, it fell to these same car companies to deny the Republican
Now that this campaign is history, understanding if and whether
it will change the future of political communication will be left to analysis.
A first indicator of things to come can already be seen: even in the age of social
media, election campaigns continue to pour most of their money into television
- and it seems they are becoming increasingly nasty.