The Democratic and Republican national party committees raised a record $255,977,550 in soft money during the first 18 months of the 2000 election cycle. Republicans raised $137.4 million in soft money, while Democrats raised $118.6 million.
Current estimates are that the two major parties will spend approximately $500 million dollars on the election by November 7. This money will be spent on advertising, political consultants and travel expenses.

Why do the candidates need to spend so much on advertising? sees many similarities between this year's Presidential election and the "cola wars" between the major soft drink manufacturers. There is very little difference in nutritional value between Coke and Pepsi, only a small difference in flavor. This is why both companies spend so much money on advertising - they want to convince the consumer that there is a difference between the products. If one product was truly superior to the other, then little or no advertisements would be needed. With each of the recent elections, there has been less and less "nutritional" difference between the candidates. Both parties continue moving towards the center, nominating candidates that make the voters choose in a contest between the lesser of two evils. Because the candidates are so similar (and they both leave a bad taste in the mouth) the parties must spend more and more money on advertising.