The presidential campaign financing law, which barred private contributions to the major party candidates in last years election, vastly increased the vote-getting power of organized labor, according to an analysis done by the National Journal.
"The magnitude and sophistication of labor's efforts last year are even more impressive when stacked up against what other could do," according to the journal's Michael J. Malbin.
Under the election law, unions and corporations were permitted to spend unlimited amounts communicating with members and stockholders and their families. In addition, both groups could undertake registration and get-out-the vote programs.
Malbin estimated that labor's efforts on behalf of the Carter-Mondale ticket "were worth at least $8.5 million." In addition, he concluded that $2.5 million was spent on "unreported communications and registration" activities bringing the combined total "up to or over the $11 million mark."
Malbin compared that with the $21.8 million in federal funds "that the ticket legally was permitted to spend" and concluded "by a conservative estimate, labor spent for Carter at east half of what he could spend for himself."
In contrast to labor's operations, Malbin wrote, "Business groups were not much help to President Ford in the general election."
The Journal's Federal Election Commission survey found only five industry organizations that spent a total of $41,100 supporting the Ford-Dole ticket in communications with stockholders and employees.
Malbin concluded the organized industry jailed to support Ford because "stockholders almost certainly would sue to prevent massive corporate activities on a par with labor's, even though such activities would not violate the campaign laws."
Organized labor groups spent over $1 million in promoting the Carter-Mondale ticket among their members, according to the Journal's analysis of Federal Election Commission filings.
In addition, according to Malbin, there were other "Vote Democratic" messages whose costs went unreported because they were in newsletters and "regular publications that normally report on union business."
Malbin also wrote that sources within two union groups, the AFL-CIO's Committee on Political Education (COPE) and the United Auto Workers, told him "their unions spent about $3 million each" on registration and get-out-the-vote efforts.