Already the 2012 projections are in -- not for who is going to win the election -- but for how much it is likely to cost.
Public Radio International concludes: "Campaign spending in the 2012 US election could reach $6 or $7 billion dollars as outside groups pay for electoral influence."
Here we are in the middle of a deep recession that's getting deeper by the day, with austerity the unofficial slogan du jour as Republicans scheme up new ways to trim, cut and decimate government spending, and the parties are spending billions on political horse races.
The Republicans decry government spending, but they don't talk much about their own spending, do they?
And neither do the Democrats who are also backing an orgy of spending cuts if only to show their opponents how "responsible" they are.
As both parties slash spending that benefits people, they are in a manic overdrive effort to raise more for themselves and their campaigns.
PRI's Here and Now program reported, "In 2008, Barack Obama raised some $778 million for his presidential bid. The total cost of the national election, including Presidential and Congressional, was about $5.3 billion. Since then, court decisions like Citizens United have made spending by outside groups easier."
"In 2012," Dave Levinthal, director of the Center for Responsive Politics told PRI's Here and Now, "you're easily looking at $6, maybe even $7 billion dollars nationwide."
The Center for Responsive Politics has already reported that Wall Street "bundlers" have generated more money for the Obama campaign than they did four years ago even as anger with the financial behemoths grows in the base of the Democratic Party.
Spending by outside groups was about four times higher in 2010 than it was in 2006. Much of that can be attributed to new, looser campaign laws.
Levinthal explains that "the laws changed in a way that effectively allowed these outside groups to raise and spend unlimited sums of money to say whatever they want, to do it whenever they wanted to, and they could do it in as strong a term as they wanted to."
These developments get scant media attention for one good reason: the media is a prime beneficiary of a political system dominated by big money.
Many of these billions are raised for political advertising. The networks get it. No wonder, they are out to sell more than tell.
Listen to the editor of Cable Fax, an industry publication that is planning a Webinar to help TV executives "monetize" (i.e., make more money from) the 2012 elections and its vast "political spend."
Here's editor Amy Maclean pitching her media readers in high places:
"The 2012 elections will be here before you know it, so now is the perfect time to start planning your strategy and make sure to maximize your share of the political ad spend. Join us Tuesday, August 30 for our CableFAX Webinar: Monetize Election 2012: Advanced Political Advertising. You'll get sound advice and practical tips to make the most of interactivity and multiplatform campaigns.
"While cable's total of campaign ad dollars continues to climb to record levels, (emphasis mine) the next question is how to make that two-way plan more attractive to campaigns through the use of Video On Demand (VOD,) RFIs, online and other interactive elements.