In 2012, US presidential candidates spent more money than the national GDP of countries like Bhutan and Belize. It amounted to $3.2 billion (US$2.3 billion). This year, the money involved in the presidential campaign is even higher.

Two conservative businessmen, who support Republican candidates, declared in early 2015 that they would raise more than a billion dollars for the election. This was declared even before anyone announced their names for the run.

Charles and David Koch said they would raise more than $1,200 million (US$889 million), which was around 74 percent of the total spending of the Republican candidates in the 2012 election.

Darrell West from the Brookings Institution in Washington predicted 2016 would break all records in terms of money spent on the election. According to him, the number could reach $8.5 billion (US$6 billion).

“Money doesn’t dictate what happens in presidential campaigns,” Al Jazeera quoted him as saying. “But money helps Republicans define problems, set the agenda, and deliver messages to the general public. In a close race, money could tilt the campaign in favour of Republicans.”

When it comes to raising funds, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is leading the race. According to the New York Times, Clinton has raised $232 million (US$163.5 million) until February 1, 2016.

While it is a Democrat who is leading the money race at the moment, Republicans are not far behind. The next three spots belong to the GOP candidates. Jeb Bush is second with $220 million (US$155 million), Ted Cruz third with $127 million (US$89.9 million) and Marco Rubio fourth with $109.57 million (US$77.2 million).

Bernie Sanders, the other Democratic candidate, raised $106.5 million (US$75.1 million). The striking difference between Sanders and the other candidates is that he does not have corporate backing. He raised the money with the help of small donors, with an average donation of $38 (US$27).