Wednesday, June 21, 2017

My Inner Cynic is Going on Vacation

As a general rule, money buys elections.  Unless a candidate has some incredibly dark negative (Klan membership), the biggest spender usually wins.  Simple reason: name recognition drives most voting decisions.  When I ran for state senate some years ago, I was running against a pro-gay, anti-gun Republican in the primary, but the difference between "Corder" and "Cramer" isn't much: Six letters starting with a C and ending -er.

I was surprised and pleased to read this:
As if the 2016 presidential primaries and general election were not enough, the Georgia 6 special election underscored that money does not win elections. This special election was the most expensive House election in U.S. history, and the candidate who spent the most lost.
Ossoff's campaign raised and spent $24 million, while Handel's campaign only raised and spent $4.5 million. Handel did receive more support from outside groups ($18.2 million supporting her or attacking Ossoff) than Ossoff did (just under $8 million supporting him or attacking Handel). But Ossoff still received $10 million more in support than Handel.
Ironically, Ossoff's huge war chest might have hurt him. In the last two months, the Democrat reported receiving nine times more donations from California than from Georgia. In the nine counties of the San Francisco Bay Area alone, Ossoff reported receiving 3,063 donations, nearly four times the Georgia total of 808 gifts. Republicans hit him on that, while Democrats focused on Handel's support from "dark money."
In the presidential election, Hillary Clinton outspent Donald Trump by a factor of 2-to-1, pro-Clinton ads outnumbered pro-Trump ads 3-to-1, "dark money" spending for Clinton beat Trump by 3-to-1, and Clinton backers ran 3 times as many ads in battleground states. The three biggest super PACs in that cycle backed a losing candidate.
Perhaps  "Democrat" is becoming the equivalent of Klan in terms of negatives.


  1. Cyndi Lauper is right again, "Money changes everything." How bracing it is to see that Ossoff and Hillary showed that the electorate rejected the commentariat. Thanks, Clayton!

  2. My opinion is that (enough) money is what buys you sufficient name recognition to be a competitive candidate, and much above that level seldom seems to decide races when there's sufficient differences between the candidates. In this Georgia one, the PJMedia article you linked to buried the lede in the penultimate paragraph, "It also likely did not help that Ossoff lived outside the district he was trying to represent....".

    Or as one wit on Twitter put it after a Guardian "reporter" noted "Brief and scattered shouts of "not my congresswoman" at the Ossoff event", "And technically it's not Ossoff's congresswoman either".