Amendment Campaign Spending Falls Short Of Past Election Cycles

Oct 16, 2012

Interest groups are dropping big bucks in this year’s election cycle, spending millions on campaigns to support or defeat several of the 11 amendments on the November ballot. But that’s nowhere near what’s been spent in year’s past.

It may not be a surprise that Planned Parenthood has donated to a campaign to defeat Amendment 6, which bans public money for abortions. Or, that the Florida Association of Realtors is supporting a campaign in favor of Amendment 4, which limits property tax increases. According to the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, more than $7 million dollars has been raised for campaigns associated with 6 out of 11 Constitutional Amendments. But that spending doesn’t even come close to previous elections cycles like 2004. According to the National Institute for Money In State Politics, that year almost $58 million dollars was dumped into amendment campaigns.

“The funder is going to calculate how much could I potentially benefit from a proposal and then make a campaign contribution depending on a return or investment," said Integrity Florida Executive Director Dan Krassner.  

This year  every constitutional amendment was placed on the ballot by Florida’s Republican-controlled legislature. It includes hot-button issues like limiting the government’s role in healthcare, public funding for religious groups and confirming the appointment of state Supreme Court Justices.

“It’s curious that you have this range of hot-button issues that drive people to the polls emerging in a presidential year and one might conclude that some of these measures were placed on the ballot to drive voter turnout and interest in other elections, other candidate campaigns on the ballot this year," Krassner said. 

If that’s the case, it could backfire, especially if voters are angry. Krassner says angry voters tend to vote no. But the legislature has history on its side. According to the Florida Division of Elections, of the more than 60 legislatively backed amendments in the past two decades, only a handful have been defeated.

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