The first in the nation Iowa Caucuses may generate a lot of national exposure for the state, but the presidential candidate’s spending habits do not have as big of an economic impact on Iowa as one might think.
Iowa State University economics professor David Swenson has issued a report on the matter. According to filings with the federal government, the 14 major candidates spent $352.5 million in the six months leading up to the January 3rd caucuses. Swenson says only $15.5 million was actually spent in Iowa.
Swenson says most of the candidate’s money is spent on hiring political consultants and media specialists. "Those kinds of people and organizations tend to be located in and around Washington D.C. area…in Maryland, Washington D.C., and Virginia especially," Swenson said.
He also notes that more than $63 million was spent on advertising, but 99-percent of that money goes to out-of-state companies that own newspapers or radio and TV stations in Iowa. Even though the candidates seemed to be living in Iowa, Swenson says most of their spending was happening out of state.
"We get a lot of spending and it’s in support of the Iowa effort, but it’s not spending that’s going on in Iowa," Swenson said. Swenson’s economic impact estimate does not include spending by the throngs on national media outlets that descend on Iowa to cover the caucuses.
Swenson says there’s really no way of measuring the time and money spent by members of the media. He writes in his report that the economic benefits of the national media visits pale in comparison to the Iowa State Fair. But, Swenson says there are other benefits to the state besides a financial windfall.
"The fact that Iowa gets to have it’s name uttered in every other sentence in the run-up to the caucuses…that’s the kind of coverage the state of Iowa couldn’t buy at any price. So, the value of the Iowa Caucuses is much bigger and much different than the actual spending," Swenson said.