Running for popular election is an expensive undertaking. Advertisements, commercials, rallies, and professional staffers for an election campaign all cost money. Candidates for office usually have to raise their own money, but can also get campaign funding from their political party.
Candidates can run for office independently, but most are part of larger organizations called political parties. These are groups that form around a common set of beliefs on the role of government, and on policies that should or should not be implemented for the nation. Political parties serve many functions in supporting both elected officials and candidates for office, including raising money to use towards getting them elected or re-elected.
Parties choose which candidate they will fund in the election for a particular office. It would be a waste of political party funding money if both competing candidates were of the same party. Political parties have different methods of selecting which of their politicians be chosen to receive funding. These can take the form of primary elections, in which the party itself votes for who it will nominate, or by other internal selection procedures.
Political party funding is limited by the amount of money that the party itself has raised through various development efforts since the previous election. From this amount, the party has to decide how to distribute funding across every election in which a member of the party is running for office. The leadership of the political party decides how to allocate funds by assessing how important having a party member in a particular office would be to the party's overall agenda, and the likelihood of their candidate winning the race.
Candidates who are running for the most important offices in a country's government, such as its head of state, usually receive the most political party funding. Party candidates who are running for less important offices and are not likely to win, as well as those in elections in which their opponent is not likely to win, usually receive the least amount of financial support from their party. Party officials rely heavily on polling data in making these decisions.
Allowing political parties to raise their own money to fund candidates is not universally popular. Critics of this system say that it makes elections a matter of who can raise the most money instead of a competition of policy positions. These critics endorse laws that limit the influence of political party funding in elections, such as capping the amount of money parties and candidates can raise and spend on campaigns.