Campaign cash

The November 3 election provided lots of intriguing exit polls and voter-turnout figures, but one number that really stands out has a dollar sign attached to it--$1.3 billion, the amount spent on election campaigns by candidates for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. You'd think that with that kind of money being spent, Americans would have witnessed invigorating, issue-oriented campaigns, or at least something better than the usual raft of 30-second spots and attack ads.

There was another striking number in this election--98 percent. That's the re-election rate for House incumbents. It's the highest re-election rate since 1988, and one of the highest in this century, according to the Committee for Responsive Politics. Only six of the 401 representatives running for re-election were defeated.


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