The striking feature of this election cycle – aside from the Tea Party – is the money. (Lots of data is available at OpenSecrets.org.) Some reflections:
– The amount is staggering – approaching $4 billion in total, and twice the 2006 total.
- The totals are about equal for both parties, a far cry from 2008 when the Democrats got 58% of the money for Congress and Obama got 64% of the money in the presidential race. Everybody loves a winner, particularly if they can dispense favors and punishments.
– There are lots of pots – the national state, and local parties; the national House, Senate, and Governors campaign committees; the Political Action Committees (which limit individual contributions to $5000); the now-unlimited independent expenditures committees; the candidates. With donor anger at the Republican National Committee for financial irresponsibility, Republican money has shown up elsewhere – but it has shown up.
– Over the past decade, and in 2010, 14 of the top 25 contributing organizations were strongly Democratic (largely unions). The Democrats get the majority from Hollywood, lawyers, and educators; the Republicans get the majority from the construction and energy industries. Less than 1% comes from mom and pop contributors.
– The Democrats remain greatly upset by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision which allows companies, unions, and trade associations to donate unlimited and undisclosed amounts to “independent expenditures committees” which can advertise for against candidates or positions. This has helped balance the scales, and is the root of Obama’s and the Democrats’ hypocritical claims:
— That the Chamber of Commerce is illegally funneling foreign money to the Republican candidates. No evidence needed. In the 2008 election Obama refused to divulge the source of thousands of potentially foreign contributions – but that was a different era.
— That all they innocently want is disclosure. Ask Target which was the subject of a boycott for contributing to a pro-business committee which sent some funds to a candidate opposed to gay marriage. Target’s exemplary gay rights record counted for nothing. The purpose is to intimidate potential corporate donors.
– The Republicans do seem to have figured out how to raise and allocate money quickly. The American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS funds started by Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie have targeted $50 million for the key house races; Sharon Angle from Nevada raised $13 million in the last quarter; Michelle Bachman of Minnesota raised over $5 million, although the net after direct mail expenses was much less. (A big part of Nancy Pelosi’s historical strength has been her ability to raise Silicon Valley money and allocate it to her Congressional friends – Bachman is a good student.)
Perhaps with equal money the effect is neutral in terms of winning elections – particularly once the name recognition threshold is reached. Just possibly it is the candidates and issues that prevail anyway. Unfortunately, just about all of the candidates wind up with lots of IOUs. We the People … (?)
for the original post, see www.RightinSanFrancisco.com