The billion dollar election

November 3, 2008 1:13:43 PM PST
One billion dollars. That's the figure we're apparently approaching for expenditures in this Presidential campaign - the longest and arguably the most interesting ever.

But, still, $1 billion?

It's not hard to think about the people and groups that could use that money in these horrible economic times.

To be sure, Barack Obama has raised hundreds of millions of dollars -- in part because he opted out of the public financing plan that would otherwise have limited his direct spending to $84 million. It's a law that was introduced by John McCain.

McCain could also have opted out of it -- and in hindsight he probably should have. It would have looked bad -- casting aside a reform measure he initiated -- but Sen. Obama wouldn't have been the one criticizing him, having done it himself.

And the Republican Party partly made up for the individual fundraising gap.

Maybe it's time for real reform after this exorbitant spending? We'll see.

I've another suggestion after this too-long campaign: How about limiting the time of campaigning? They do it in other countries -- and that includes a time frame on each side of the nomination process, leading up to the election. Do we really need the 11th hour jaunts around the country trying to convince - what? - a small fraction of people in a tiny sliver of a state? I've said it before in this space: I'm dumbfounded that anyone is still undecided in this election. I'm sorry, but undecided about what? Do the candidates not have enough differences for people to make up their minds yet? (Click here to vote in a 7online poll)

Many experts say that for some, "undecided" is a code word for not sure about race, and voting for an African American. (For the record, isn't Sen. Obama as much a white man as he is a black man?)

Will this be a factor? It's one of the things we'll be watching tomorrow night.

Tonight, at 11, we're on the campaign trail with the candidates. Our political reporter Dave Evans is with Sen. Obama, and our weekend anchor Sandra Bookman is with Sen. McCain. (Read more political coverage on 7online.com)

And a word about tomorrow night: We'll be on the air throughout the night -- supplementing ABC News' coverage of Election Night '08, at least once every half hour. And we plan to have our 11 p.m. newscast as well.

We're also using the web like never before. On 7online.com, we'll have up-to-date election results, a live chat with political analyst Doug Muzzio beginning at 8 p.m., a voter interaction portion so that you can tell us what you think about the campaign and the election and the outcome, live streams from both McCain and Obama headquarters, and a live stream of ABC News Now -- the ABC News website.

We're also looking at the potential problems tomorrow - including long lines at the voting stations, and potential problems with the computerized voting machines.

And just one more thought: When has a sitting President been so absent from the campaign trail as George W. Bush has been this go-round?

Also at 11 tonight, we'll have the latest on Mayor Bloomberg signing into law allowing himself and council members to run for a third term in office. The public-comment portion of this morning's hearing lasted several hours and brought forth 139 speakers: 71 opposed the bill, 68 spoke in favor of extending term limits. That's about the percentage of the electorate who oppose/favor term limits. But the number of New Yorkers who think they should decide whether to overturn the law they twice voted in favor of -- limiting terms to two -- that is overwhelming. Nearly nine out of 10 New Yorkers think they, not the Mayor and the City Council, should decide the issue.

Nonetheless, the Mayor now stands ready to run for a third term, although this battle to change the law and bypass the voters could very well have cost him dearly in terms of political support.

Also at 11, we'll have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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