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  • Press Release

2004 Presidential Campaign Finance Activity Summarized

February 3, 2005

Press Office

FEC Home Page

For Immediate Release
February 3, 2005

Bob Biersack
Ian Stirton
Kelly Huff  George Smaragdis


WASHINGTON – Financial activity of 2004 presidential candidates and national conventions totaled more than $1 billion, 56% more than comparable activity during the 2000 campaign.  Summaries of presidential campaign financing prepared by the Federal Election Commission show that candidates in the primaries raised $673.9 million dollars seeking nomination.  The two major party nominees received $74.6 million each in public funds to conduct their general election campaigns, and raised an additional $21 million for legal and accounting costs associated with the general election race.  For their nominating conventions, the two parties received $14.9 million each from the treasury, while host committees from the two convention cities raised a total of $142.5 million in support of convention activities.  A table attached to this release summarized these three categories of activity for the 1996, 2000, and 2004 campaigns.

            In addition to spending by candidates and conventions, individuals, parties and other groups spent $192.4 million independently advocating the election or defeat of presidential candidates during the 2004 campaign.  This spending compares with $14.7 million in similar activity in 2000, and $1.4 million in independent expenditures in the 1996 presidential race.  There is no limit on the amount that may be spent on these activities, so long as they are independent of the candidates. Much of the independent expenditure activity during 2004 was undertaken by national political parties.  The DNC spent $120 million on these independent expenditures, while the RNC spent $18.2 million.  In addition, the RNC spent $45.8 million on generic media ads that included both specific campaign messages and generic party support messages for which they shared the cost of some advertising with the Bush campaign.  DNC spending on similar ads totaled $24 million.  The two national parties also spent $32.1 million in coordination with the 2004 presidential campaigns during the general election period.  Each party was permitted to spend up to $16.25 million on this activity.  In 2000 parties spent $27.2 million on coordinated expenditures, while the total in 1996 was $18.7 million.

            Membership organizations reported $12.3 million in communications to their members advocating the election or defeat of a presidential candidate.  This amount was little changed from the $11.5 million these organizations reported during the 2000 campaign.

            Finally, in 2004 groups reported making electioneering communications totaling $40.8 million that made reference to presidential candidates.  Electioneering communications are broadcast ads aired in the period just before an election that refer to federal candidates.

            Additional tables attached to this release provide details about the sources of receipts for presidential pre-nomination campaigns and some information about how the money was spent.  Candidates seeking nominations raised $611.4 million in contributions directly from individuals, $28 million in federal matching funds, $3.5 million from PACs and $6.8 million in transfers from prior campaigns.  2004 was the first cycle in which both major party nominees declined public matching funds during the primaries, and the $28 million paid in those funds was the lowest total since the first presidential election conducted under the system in 1976.  The $269.6 million raised by President Bush prior to the convention was nearly three times his fundraising total in 2000, when he also declined to accept public funds.  John Kerry raised $234.6 million, nearly six times more than had ever been raised by a Democratic nominee under the public funding program, which imposes spending limits on candidates who accept matching funds and limits the total amount of public funds available.

            The extraordinary fundraising by the two nominees led to some disbursements that were also unusual for candidate committees.  The Kerry primary committee, for example, transferred more than $40 million to Democratic Party committees at both the national and state levels, with $23.6 million going to the DNC.  The Bush primary committee transferred $11.3 million to the RNC in mid October.



Overview of Presidential Financial Activity 1996 - 2004 [excel] [pdf]

2004 Presidential Primary Campaign Receipts [excel] [pdf]

2004 Presidential Primary Campaign Disbursements [excel] [pdf]

Presidential Public Funding History [excel] [pdf]

Kerry Campaign Transfers to Parties [excel] [pdf]