The Lonely Centrist

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

From the Duh File

Here is an L.A. Times story that we think pretty much sums up the shallow state of campaign finance analysis. It begins with the classic "you don't say" style headline, "Big Money is drawn to issues." Because usually, you see, big money is simply drawn to hedonistic pursuits or flushed down sewers.

Some text highlights with a bit of pithy commentary mixed in:
often — not always — the politician or proposition with the most money wins.
I think the purpose of this sentence is to inform us, right in the opening paragraph, that this is going to be a stupid article.
Oil and tobacco interests are investing millions in campaigns opposing Proposition 87's proposed increase in the oil extraction tax and Proposition 86's $2.60-a-pack leap in the cigarette tax
Hey, no taxation without representation, man! I love how the shareholders and employees of these industries, not to mention their suppliers and their shareholders and employees, or family members, or towns and cities that rely on them, are supposed to just bend over and take it.
Real estate heir and movie producer Stephen L. Bing and his allies matched the oil industry nearly dollar for dollar, dropping $47 million into the Yes-on-87 campaign. ...

Hospitals and healthcare groups that stand to benefit from the revenue generated by higher cigarette taxes have collected $14 million to promote the measure.
So there's big money on both sides. Egads, it's unfair! It's undemocratic!
The real tragedy of campaign financing in the initiative process is that hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent to 'educate' voters, and yet most of the money is used to buy television ads that confuse, mislead or scare voters and do just about anything but inform them.
As opposed to this article, which really informs voters about the issues.
For statewide political candidates, money is following a familiar trend: Generally the candidates with the most money are the candidates who are ahead in the polls.
It would be a strange world, indeed, where less popular candidates generally raised more money, wouldn't it Indeed, if every citizen could, and was required to, give exactly one dollar to their favored candidate in each race on the first day of the campaign, and no more, the candidate raising the most money would always win. Well, that's not good if you're concerned about money dictating election results. On the other hand, we could dispense with the campaign, so the scheme offers some benefits. Of course candidates ahead in the polls tend to raise more money. A wonderful thing about our system, however, is that sometimes those behind in the polls can raise more money. Reformers constantly mistake campaigning with voting, as if dollars were stuffed into ballot boxes, and forget that the purpose of the campaign is to persuade.
A Los Angeles Times poll released Sept. 30 showed state Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer, a Democrat, leading Republican rival Claude Parrish, a Board of Equalization member, by 24 percentage points. Their money gap is similarly wide: Lockyer has raised $1.3 million this year, compared with $226,724 for Parrish.
Well, there you have it. Money bought the election. Couldn't be that Lockyer's popularity has anything to do with his raising more money, or that Lockyer popularity is due to his holding a much more high profile office, being a Democrat in a heavily blue state, etc. etc.
A departure in the trend is the insurance commissioner race. Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, the Democratic candidate, has only a slight lead, pollsters say, over Republican Silicon Valley businessman Steve Poizner. The overall total Poizner has amassed for his campaign is $11 million; Bustamante has collected $1.1 million. The difference? Poizner put $8.3 million of his own money into the race.
And they say there are no competitive races anymore. Thank goodness Poizner could use money to make this race close against a candidate who began with much higher name recognition and is from the majority party.

  • The Skeptic
  • Andrew Sullivan
  • Michael Barone
  • The New Republic
  • National Review
  • Democracy Project
  • Bob Bauer
  • Center for Competitive Politics
  • Ryan Sager
  • Going to the Matt
  • Professor Bainbridge
  • Volokh Conspiracy
  • Mystery Pollster
  • Amitai Etzioni
  • Alexander Chrenkoff
  • Middle East Media Research Institute
  • Right Democrat
  • Democrats for Life