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Election Campaigns a Gold Mine for Local Businesses

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There’s still a little more than eight months before the 2012 presidential elections. And while that means eight more months of policy debates and nasty attack ads, business owners should rejoice.

According to a report in The Atlantic, “presidential aspirants will spend more money than ever before,” with President Barack Obama expected to raise as much as $1 billion for his campaign. And where will that money go?

The Atlantic published this nifty chart to give readers an idea of how much it costs to run a campaign, and ultimately, “how a presidential election boosts the economy.”

While consultants grab a lot of the money, small businesses across the country will profit as well. And those expenditures cut across a large number of sectors.

Let’s start with travel. While buses and commercial flights eat up a lot of the travel budget, private jets are sometimes more cost-effective. A candidate can spend as much as $3 million on a private plane for two months.

And when that plane lands in your town? A candidate spends an average of $75,000 for a 5,000-person rally, with much of the business going to local firms. Everything from stage construction ($15,000) to printing tickets ($250) to renting the portable potties ($2,000) needs to be paid for. Local caterers can make out pretty well, too. Hosting a ballroom fundraiser, with hors d’ouevres and a cash bar for $1,000 guests is estimated to cost $20,000.

Don't forget the giant flag: every rally should have one, and they are often rented from local businesses. Campaigns are paying $1,000 for the benefit of not having to lug these around the country.

While much of a campaign’s staff is volunteers, candidates still need offices. According to The Atlantic, a campaign may set up as many as 700 offices around the country, at a cost of $11 million. That’s a lot of otherwise empty storefronts that could get several months of rent this year.

All those volunteers drink a lot of coffee. Keeping staffers caffeinated (as well as on a sugar high) can cost about $400,000. And pizza parlors, take note: “more is spent on pizza than on almost any other kind of food,” for a total of $35,000.

Advertising is a huge chunk of any campaign, as any TV-ad weary citizen knows. And while much of that money will go to national advertising firms and marketers, we found one intriguing expense among those on the chart: Temporary tattoos. If that's your business, look for a bump this year. Just find a candidate looking to buy in bulk: 400,000 will get you $16,000.

Is your business benefiting from election-year spending? Tell us how.

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