It Took An Independently Wealthy Billionaire To Prove Money Doesn’t Win Elections

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Phillip Stucky Political Reporter
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Republican President-elect Donald Trump made history in a unique way during the 2016 presidential election, according to the Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) final campaign spending report published Thursday.

Trump spent a grand total of $600 million in his bid for the White House, according to official FEC reports, much lower than the estimated $1.2 billion former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton raised and spent in her massive attempt to win.

Trump spent $94 million of that during the final month of the campaign, smaller than the nearly $132 million Clinton spent on just ad buys nationwide. Clinton’s last-minute spending push left her with only $800,000 in the campaign spending account — meaning she spent most of the money raised.

Democrats like Sen. Bernie Sanders assert that large donors carry too much influence in national elections, and use that argument to fight the Citizens United decision, which allowed Super PACs to raise huge amounts of money from private individuals towards political ends.

Trump smashed the Democratic narrative with the fact that an overwhelming majority of Trump’s funds came from donors giving less than $200 per donation. The president-elect was able to win the election, despite raising significantly less money than Clinton, who relied more on large donors to fund traditionally large ad buys.

Trump staffer Brad Parscale credited highly targeted online ad spending and grassroots outreach with winning the election, according to a Thursday Fortune report. For instance, Parscale told the Associated Press that the Trump team only spent $5 million during the last week in online ads in key states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida.

Clinton spent $72 million in TV advertising, and $16 million in online ads attacking Trump in the same period, according to Fortune.

The single largest donation Trump received was from himself. Trump donated $66 million to his own campaign, an action that could have contributed to the intense scrutiny that campaign spending received from top staffers.

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