The amount of money it takes to get elected to get elected to congress has skyrocketed, with over 3.6 billion dollars spent in the last election cycle on congressional races alone.
Think about it: how much money is spent, on average, for each member of the 468 members elected to Congress? Answer: 7.8 million dollars—and that's just an average. "Safe seats" where the winner is almost assured will probably cost less, while tight races and senate races will cost extra. Since the U.S. is a two-party system, that means about half of the money is spent on Republicans and half on Democrats. You might think that a Congressman making $174,000 per year, plus benefits, has a cushy job, but the need to raise more than ten times your own salary in "donations" from the rich, just to keep your job, must be kind of stressful. But it's not that bad; they don't have to raise all that money themselves—in fact, after Citizens United they may not be legally allowed to "coordinate" with some of their their top funders at all! And I'm dead serious about "donations from the rich": out of 435 members of congress, only one (Alan Grayson) got the majority of his campaign funding from "small donations" ($200 or less). So don't feel too sorry for these guys; congressmen that leave to become lobbyists receive a 1452% raise (on average).
To learn more on the new "Citizens United Era" of money in politics, here's a handy interactive infographic.
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