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How Much Money Is Spent on Elections?

Updated May 17, 2024
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The 2020 U.S. elections were memorable for many reasons, not least the whopping price tag that they carried. The most recent election cycle broke all sorts of records, with total spending reaching nearly $14 billion -- more than double the amount spent on the elections held just four years earlier.

Spending in 2020 was split almost evenly between the presidential campaign ($6.6 billion) and congressional voting ($7 billion). According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Democrats spent nearly twice as much as their Republican rivals.

For comparison, presidential candidates spent just over $2 billion in both 2016 and 2012, while congressional hopefuls doled out roughly $4 billion in each of those elections. Prior to his victory in the presidential race, Joe Biden reportedly became the first candidate in history to raise $1 billion, while his opponent, then-President Donald Trump, brought in slightly more than $950 million.

More on the 2020 election:

  • Nearly 160 million people voted in the 2020 presidential election, setting a U.S. record.

  • The coronavirus pandemic prompted a huge amount of mail-in voting, with two-thirds of all voting done prior to Election Day.

  • Although Biden won the popular vote by 7.1 million votes, Trump was less than 43,000 votes shy of a tie in the Electoral College, due to the slim margins in Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin.

America Explained is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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