Money plays a defining role in democracies around the world. But the cost of a vote can vary significantly by nation. Some countries, like France and Canada, limit how much politicians can spend on their campaigns. To put the US numbers in context, Canada’s Liberal party spent $26.1 million on the 2019 election, just under the spending cap of $29 million.

If candidates simply spend more, will they get more votes? Not necessarily. The relationship between fundraising and victory is complicated. For one, not all voters can be swayed by extra spending, as data analysis site FiveThirtyEight explains. Many cast their ballots along party lines, and have done so for decades, or even generations. There’s also some evidence to suggest advertising isn’t particularly effective, which is where a significant portion of campaign funding ends up.

Presidential candidate spending is also only a fraction of the total cost of the US election. One study by an independent group that tracks political spending estimates that a record $10.8 billion will be spent on this year’s vote.

In fact, while there’s a strong relationship between spending and success, it’s a misconception to think that the money entirely causes the success. As Richard Lau, professor of political science at Rutgers told Five Thirty Eight, “I think it’s more that winning attracts money.”

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.