Patrick Skarr, Sr. Account Supervisor

According to the Center for Responsive Politics this midterm election cycle is record breaking. Nearly $4 billion will have been spent on the campaigns for control of Congress, leading to the Washington Post headline, “2014 will be the most expensive midterm election ever.”

According to ABC, the North Carolina senate election has topped $113 million, a truly staggering sum. What is most fascinating is the North Carolina election was generally thought to be election that Republicans had significant opportunities of picking up. The costs reflect that knocking out an incumbent is very, very hard to do. Kyle Kondick reminds us that since 1980, not more than two incumbent Senate Democrats have lost their reelection bid in the same cycle.

Here at home the gubernatorial election in Illinois is set to break spending records. Rick Pearson reports more than $100 million will have been raised and spent here in the Land of Lincoln. The tabulators at Weslyan University note that $68 million of that has been spent airing 62,000 commercials.

At the end of the day, it’s unclear if all of these advertisements really matter a damn, or if it is just a bonanza for consultants and media stations. There are arguments to be made on both fronts.

My personal favorite ad of the cycle is this one from Mitch McConnell’s campaign, that gets to the heart of the paid media horserace:

One important thing to note – especially for donors, strategists and candidates, for all of this spending, it doesn’t seem to have had a positive impact on driving voters interest in the election.

The Post surveyed Americans and found just 65 percent said they were certain to vote or already voted this year. That’s down six percent from 2010 and 11 points from the 2006 midterm, when dissatisfaction with the Bush administration crested at the polls.

The Post’s survey finding is in line with Gallup’s analysis of voters’ apatahy: “with a Democratic president and divided party control of Congress, there is no clear remedy to inspire voters to change things this year, and that may be keeping Americans’ motivation to vote and enthusiasm about voting in check.”

For all of the accusations of donors and activists “trying to buy America,” perhaps no amount of money will convince voters to go in a direction they don’t want to go.

Americans and voters are deeply dissatisfied with the results of our democratic processes, but seem very distrustful of the other party and its nominees to deliver a new direction.

Unfortunately for all those sick and tired of the back and forth, the 2016 presidential cycle kicks off on the morning of November 5.