2008 Shocker: It Will Cost $5 Billion

Forget every story you've read that the 2008 elections will cost a historic $1 billion. We've done the math, and if the spending by all the presidential candidates, House and Senate contenders, political parties, and 527 issue groups is included, the total is at least five times that.

"I feel very confident we'll exceed $5 billion," says former Federal Election Commission boss Michael Toner. Most people, he says, add up only what the presidential nominees will spend, and that's where the $1 billion figure comes from.

But total it up, and Toner says "whether $5 billion to $6 billion or $5 billion to $7 billion, I don't know." The real shocker: Despite campaign finance reform, there is more money than ever flooding into politics.

By Paul Bedard