United States Postal Service. Spending on presidential campaign mailings was already over $28.9 million at the end of August. That tops the 2008 campaign's spending for the entire election cycle, which was only $27.9 million -- and you know the mailings going out to voters won't ease up any in September and October (but will probably increase).
The Postal Service had hoped to rake in about $285 million (in all races -- local, state, and federal), but it's now looking like they'll easily top that. The USPS is now hoping to top $338 million (which was its take in the 2010 election). But it could be even more. Political mail makes up about 15% of campaign spending, and the Center for Responsive Politics estimates that spending could top $2.5 billion -- which would give the USPS a windfall of about $375 million.
And it couldn't have come at a better time. The Postal Service has been having financial problems since Congress passed a bill in 2006 requiring it to donate over $5 billion a year for 10 years for future retiree health benefits. In fact, the USPS was expected to have a serious cash crunch in October. While the campaign money hasn't solved all their problems, it does look like it will take care of their immediate cash problems. And since they go into the holiday mailing season soon after the election, it looks like they will be OK until next year.
An added benefit this year is from spending by the super-PACs. While they spend a lot on TV, they like to use mailings because that lets them target the individuals and areas they are interested in reaching (without wasting money on places where the outcome is already known). And the super-PACs don't get a discount on their mailings like the campaigns do. They must pay the regular price.
I have to admit that I no longer even open any of the political mail that I get. It goes straight from the mailbox to the trash can -- regardless of which party has sent it. But I hope they go on spending that money on mailings. I have a daughter who makes her living by hauling the mail -- and she could use a little job security.