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How The Kochs Wasted A Fortune On Campaigns

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How The Kochs Wasted A Fortune On Campaigns

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By Jonathan Bernstein, Bloomberg News (TNS)

What if the fuss over big money in elections is mostly over nothing?

Political scientist Alan Abramowitz at the Crystal Ball reported Thursday on his analysis of the effects of outside spending on Senate races in 2014, and finds a big, fat zero. (I’m referring to direct spending by groups other than the candidates and other formal party organizations.) Instead, the factors that mattered, he finds, were the balance between the parties in the state, the role of incumbency and the overall tilt toward Republicans in that election year.

Some important caveats are in order. The effects of election spending are notoriously hard to nail down, and it’s possible that a different way of analyzing the numbers might yield a different result. In addition, just one set of elections in one year are included, and something the analysis doesn’t account for could be messing with the results.

As Abramowitz explains further, the hotly contested elections attract big outside money for both sides, so we can’t know whether something would change if only one side was dumping tons of cash into a campaign.

Still, I believe these results, because they fit with what we know about campaign financing in general. Spending is subject to sharply diminishing returns.

As Abramowitz writes:

“After each side had spent $30 million on attack ads in a small state like Iowa, it’s hard to believe that an additional $1 million in spending on attack ads by either side was going to have much impact on the Hawkeye State electorate — except perhaps causing more Iowans to turn off their televisions.”

Money is wasted on those who have already made up their minds.

Overall, campaign spending has the biggest impact when voters have little other information. The most important piece of information for voters is a candidate’s party affiliation, so money is more influential in primaries than in general elections.

In addition, the more media attention a campaign gets, the less money matters because voters learn about the candidates from sources other than ads. So the flood of cash plays less of a role in presidential elections, which draw saturation coverage, than it does in high-profile statewide contests, which receive only a fair amount of news attention. Races out of the limelight might see the largest impact.

Of course, even if campaign money doesn’t sway elections, it might shape how winning candidates govern, or shift influence within the political parties. Still, the findings provide more evidence that the fears on this issue are overstated. And they give us more support for a “floors, not ceilings” approach to campaign-finance reform.

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35 Comments

  1. Godzilla February 20, 2015

    Maybe now you progressive/communist wannabe’s can finally put to rest your boogiemen Koch Bros. Doubt it, but at least it’s a try.

    Reply
    1. Joyce February 21, 2015

      How do you put “progressive” and “communist” in the same sentence? Do you need a dictionary, Godzilla? I’d rather be considered progressive, i.e., favoring or advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are, especially in political matters: rather than conservative: disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to LIMIT CHANGE No Thanks, Godzilla! I don’t want to be stuck in the past with the inability to change. Our world is changing and the antiquated CONSERVATIVE point of view needs to evolve or else we will all be condemned to repeat past mistakes.

      1. Godzilla February 21, 2015

        Yes Joyce, I do read quite a lot. It’s a shame that you don’t even know what your own philosophy means or extolls, so let me give you a lesson. From here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressivism

        Philosophy

        Immanuel Kant identified progress as being a movement away from barbarism towards civilization. Eighteenth century philosopher and political scientist Marquis de Condorcet predicted that political progress would involve the disappearance of slavery, the rise of literacy, the lessening of inequalities between the sexes, reforms of harsh prisons and the decline of poverty.[6] “Modernity” or “modernization” was a key form of the idea of progress as promoted by classical liberals in the 19th and 20th centuries, who called for the rapid modernization of the economy and society to remove the traditional hindrances to free markets and free movements of people.[7] German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was influential in promoting the Idea of Progress in European philosophy by emphasizing a linear-progressive conception of history and rejecting a cyclical conception of history. Karl Marx applied the Hegelian conception of linear-progressive history, the modernization of the economy through industrialization, and criticisms of the social class structure of industrial capitalist societies, to develop the ideology of communism. As industrialization grew, concerns over its effects grew beyond Marxist and other radical critiques and became mainstream.

        Notice the part about “to develop the ideology of Communism” part within YOUR philosophy. The problem with Progressives is that their minds are filled with constant contradictions. The ideals of fairness and all the nice things that are claimed as what Progressives stand for are certainly nice and on it’s face coming from caring people. It all ends when Progressives demand their ideology be thrust upon everyone via government force. Once you employ government force, then you are simply one or all three of the following: Communist, Fascist and or Socialist. Considering Obamacare is a pure example of fascism, that you and your ilk support, I could simply go with that. It is quite simple Joyce, Progressives use similar methods outlined by Communist’s, employ a Fascist style of government and extoll Socialism at every turn. So you tell me, do you know what you really are?

        1. Independent1 February 21, 2015

          What a load of nonsense. “The problem with Progressives is that their minds are filled with constant contradictions. ” Based on whose idiotic perception and Bias?? Yours and a bunch of other LOW IQ Conservatives??? Like a bunch you just quoted???

          Well! Fact is that Conservatism has not only been linked to low IQ, it’s also been linked to racism. Studies have shown that low IQ youngsters show the strongest traits toward racism not only when they’re young but also when they grow up.

          So sorry, but I can give very little credence to the ramblings of bunch of low IQ conservatives in their obviously biased assessments of what makes liberals and progressives tick. It certainly isn’t contradictions; it’s active minds constantly thinking about how to improve the future – unlike the stagnant low IQ rumblings of Conservatives who are afraid to even walk outside their own shadow!!!

          1. idamag February 23, 2015

            I am trying to remember who said, “Not all Conservatives are racists, but all racists are Conservatives.”.

        2. Independent1 February 21, 2015

          Just in case you doubt my comment about the Low IQ and conservativism, take a minute and read this from LiveScience:

          There’s no gentle way to put it: People who give in to racism and prejudice may simply be dumb, according to a new study that is bound to stir public controversy.

          The research finds that children with low intelligence are more likely to hold prejudiced attitudes as adults. These findings point to a vicious cycle, according to lead researcher Gordon Hodson, a psychologist at Brock University in Ontario. Low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, the study found. Those ideologies, in turn, stress hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes that can contribute to prejudice, Hodson wrote in an email to LiveScience.

          “Prejudice is extremely complex and multifaceted, making it critical that any factors contributing to bias are uncovered and understood,” he said.

          http://www.livescience.com/18132-intelligence-social-conservatism-racism.html

          1. Godzilla February 21, 2015

            The copy and paste Kueen posts more idiocy! Careful, the internet say’s that your nipples will fall off if you can’t manage to have an original thought. You should start checking daily. Dude, grow up!

          2. Independent1 February 21, 2015

            Me grow up?? Given that conservatives never seem to progress past the 6-year old stage, I think it’s you and your ilk who need to grow up.

            Only six-year olds would vote 50 plus times uselessly to repeal some legislation, purposely wasting over 70 million dollars doing something over and over that they knew was a loser. Grown ups know that continuing to do a failed process over and over is only something total juveniles would do. Which about fits everything that you and your ilk do: Keeping believing in ideologies only mental midgets would fall for – like: Reagan’s trickle-down economics fantasies!! and budget cuts will spur the economy fantasies!!

            So if you’re looking for someone to grow up, I think that starts with you – it’s pretty idiotic for a member of the six-year old ilk to be asking someone else to grow up!!!!! Even a large portion of the American public has accused Republicans in the House of acting like juveniles!!!

          3. idamag February 23, 2015

            Only an ape beating his chest would say, after an election , “The Republicans number one goal is to make Obama a one-term president.”

          4. idamag February 23, 2015

            Damn, I’m sorry if I offended any primates.

          5. Independent1 February 21, 2015

            And by the way – your avatar says it all: Godzilla??? Really, how juvenile can you get!!!!! Better check with mommy to be sure that it’s okay for you to be on the computer this late!!!

          6. old_blu February 22, 2015

            “The copy and paste Kueen”?

            Really?
            Here’s the Wiki article that you copied and pasted, pretty smart using wiki.

            Don’t be a dumbass.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressivism

          7. Godzilla February 22, 2015

            I put the link in my post dickhead, maybe you should learn to read and then mind your own fucking business.

          8. idamag February 23, 2015

            This is a public blog. Everyone has a right to respond to anything put on it. If you can’t stand to have your stupidity challenged, go someplace else where they pat you on the back for the most hateful bigotry you can come up with against people who do not agree with you.

          9. idamag February 23, 2015

            I have seen that.

      2. idamag February 23, 2015

        fascists do that.

    2. Allan Richardson February 21, 2015

      I wish the first liberal who was called a communist by a pundit or other politician had sued for millions of dollars in damages. I think he (whoever was the first) could have won damages for being LITERALLY called a communist, since that would be VERIFIABLE if it were factual, and that would have discouraged this SLANDEROUS falsehood from being repeated.

      The only communists in US politics are those who ran on the CPUSA ticket (notably Eugene Debs), and none of them have won any elected office of which I am aware, except possibly dog catcher in a small town. Read the dictionary definition of “communist,” read Das Kapital and The Communist Manifest, and read the history of the Soviet Union and its “daughter” regimes, and you will know the difference between liberal (example, John F. Kennedy) and communist (example, Nikita Khrushchev).

      But of course, your ilk doesn’t care about facts or reality, because “reality has a well known liberal bias,” as Stephen Colbert said.

      1. Godzilla February 21, 2015

        Allen, maybe if you would actually understand what a Progressive is would your words have merit, sadly, you don’t even know what you are. From here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressivism

        Philosophy

        Immanuel Kant identified progress as being a movement away from barbarism towards civilization. Eighteenth century philosopher and political scientist Marquis de Condorcet predicted that political progress would involve the disappearance of slavery, the rise of literacy, the lessening of inequalities between the sexes, reforms of harsh prisons and the decline of poverty.[6] “Modernity” or “modernization” was a key form of the idea of progress as promoted by classical liberals in the 19th and 20th centuries, who called for the rapid modernization of the economy and society to remove the traditional hindrances to free markets and free movements of people.[7] German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was influential in promoting the Idea of Progress in European philosophy by emphasizing a linear-progressive conception of history and rejecting a cyclical conception of history. Karl Marx applied the Hegelian conception of linear-progressive history, the modernization of the economy through industrialization, and criticisms of the social class structure of industrial capitalist societies, to develop the ideology of communism. As industrialization grew, concerns over its effects grew beyond Marxist and other radical critiques and became mainstream.

        Notice the part about “to develop the ideology of Communism” part within YOUR philosophy. The problem with Progressives is that their minds are filled with constant contradictions. The ideals of fairness and all the nice things that are claimed as what Progressives stand for are certainly nice and on it’s face coming from caring people. It all ends when Progressives demand their ideology be thrust upon everyone via government force. Once you employ government force, then you are simply one or all three of the following: Communist, Fascist and or Socialist. Considering Obamacare is a pure example of fascism, that you and your ilk support, I could simply go with that. It is quite simple Allen, Progressives use similar methods outlined by Communist’s, employ a Fascist style of government and extoll Socialism at every turn. So you tell me, do you know what you really are?

        1. Independent1 February 24, 2015

          I believe you were trying to foist the blame for not supporting our veterans on the Dems. If that’s the case, you may find this article of interest:

          The Real Scandal: 258,000 Veterans Lack Healthcare Because Republicans Won’t Expand Medicaid

          While Republicans are trying to blame the problems at the VA on President Obama, the real scandal is that the Republican refusal to expand Medicaid in 23 states has left 258,000 veterans without healthcare.

          The real scandal is that Republicans continue to deny over a quarter million veterans healthcare because they think it is good politics to oppose Obamacare. The 258,000 number is a bit of an underestimate, because it does not include the tens of thousands of thousands of spouses and children who are also being denied healthcare.

          Republicans can try to make the bipartisan issues at VA an Obama scandal, but if they really cared about veterans they be demanding that the states that haven’t expanded Medicaid do so right away.

          Blaming Obama isn’t going to get Republicans out of this one. For the last two years, congressional Republicans have voted against bills that would have created jobs, and provided better healthcare for our vets. House Republicans even voted to throw170,000 veterans off of food stamps.

          The great hypocrisy is that while Republicans are blaming President Obama for the VA, they refusing to provide hundreds of thousands of veterans and their families healthcare. They can wave the flag all they want, but when the rubber hits the road, Republicans have repeatedly betrayed our veterans.

          It is tragic that any veteran died while waiting for care from the VA, but how many veterans are dying or losing family members because Republicans refuse to expand Medicaid?

          http://www.politicususa.com/2014/05/22/real-scandal-258000-veterans-lack-healthcare-republicans-refuse-expand-medicaid.html

      2. idamag February 23, 2015

        A funny thing happened in these blogs. joe schmuck claimed to be an expert on who was communist because his parents escaped from communism. He also informed people he was half German in another post. Putting that together, his parents were nazis who escaped from West Germany because after the nazis sent 8000 Russian Soldiers to the gas chambers and marched into Russia and murdered entrie villages, the Russians weren’t too happy with the nazis. Hilter hated Communists with a passion that almost matched his hatred of Jews.

        1. Independent1 February 23, 2015

          Yeah! And not only is Joe Schmuck not an expert on anything that took part with respect to where his parents escaped from, he’s no expert on anything related to immigrants or California where he claims to live. He lives in his own little fantasy bubble and fabricates the vast majority of everything he posts – and when he does produce references, the sites he references generally do not support his misguided interpretations of what he claims they supposedly say; which of course is pretty typical of all the RWNJs posting on the NM.

          1. idamag February 23, 2015

            No matter what you believe, you can find a website to back it up even if you believe humans used to hatch from eggs.

    3. Michael Ross February 21, 2015

      That will only happen when you conservative/tyrant wannabes stop whoring yourselves out to the Koch Brothers.

  2. John Pigg February 21, 2015

    FALSE

    Big money and unlimited campaign contributions don’t always win elections. But they always influence them… any serious contender for higher office will consider positional changes on issues. Especially if he/she knows that campaign contributions will directly resolute in their policy positions.

    It’s not just about the election RESULT… its also about the POLICY!
    And by and large GOP is bought, not by rank and file party members, but by affluent donors who control the narrative.

    Reply
  3. bobnstuff February 21, 2015

    Having sold air time at a radio station, money in politics are the life blood to the media. They will build up a contest just to keep the money flowing. All campaigns pay top of the rate card, something no one else ever does. Many stations only survive because of this money. The media is not the allies of
    the public or the politicians but are in it for their own profit. The media is a business.

    Reply
  4. PolishEagle_2 February 21, 2015

    The worst part about all this, is that the RWNJ now have a report, admittedly very sloppy research, but it shows that money plays no role in elections. So now they can continue to pump money into campaigns, and say that it has no influence.
    And if anyone thinks that they will not use this report to loudly proclaim that fact, we would be very mistaken.

    Reply
    1. Siegfried Heydrich February 21, 2015

      If it has no influence, then why is this money being spent? And to be honest, saturation media blitzes are counterproductive. During the ’14 campaign season, I watched virtually NO broadcast TV whatsoever and just streamed whatever I wanted to watch without commercials. I let all my phone calls get screened by my caller ID and voicemail. Any flyers that came in the mail, I just tossed without even bothering to see who it was from, along with the rest of the junk mail. And I’m just hoping that the e-mail filters I put up last campaign are still good this time around. Getting hammered continuously by the same ads over and over really starts to get VERY grating after a while

      However, one really good way to turn this around is to run an ad featuring one of the Koch commercials, seen on an old fashioned TV with rabbit ears and a voiceover that says

      “The Koch brothers are businessmen. They know investments The commercial they’re running here cost $X to shoot, and $X each and every time it’s aired. Look at how many of them they’re airing, and now think about how much it’s costing them.
      To them, it’s just an investment. They’re putting up a billion dollars of their money to buy Jeb Bush the presidency. Now, as businessmen, what kind of return do you think they hope to gain on their billion dollar investment?”

      1. Independent1 February 22, 2015

        Talking about ads: here’s one that ran in the NYTimes which says a lot about John Boehner:

        http://images.dailykos.com/images/130555/large/NIAC-NYT-Ad-full-385×700.png?1424567845

      2. idamag February 23, 2015

        I can’t afford to buy a politician.

        1. Siegfried Heydrich February 23, 2015

          Well, the less well-to-do can always rent . . .

          1. idamag February 23, 2015

            I don’t think I can even rent one.

          2. plc97477 February 24, 2015

            Some of them are really cheap.

          3. idamag February 25, 2015

            Cheap! I don’t think I can compete with the koch brothers. Prostitutes are more honest and less dangerous than some of our legislators. We should legalize prostitution. After all the “supreme” court legalized selling one’s soul for money.

    2. idamag February 23, 2015

      Of course it influences politicians and turns them into just that, politicians and not statesmens.

  5. MacK February 22, 2015

    It is worth considering that political spending is not wasted if it secures influence – if it means a billionaire’s phones calls get answered by a grovelling governor, see, e.g.,

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2013/11/i-punkd-scott-walker-100033.html#.VOnaUkLYn68

    It is not wasted if it can get mysterious clauses inserted in bills before congress, clauses whose author is unidentified, creating tax and regulatory exceptions that Koch owned companies benefit from (not to mention other major donors like Citibank.)

    The problem is a failure to understand the purpose of the spending – it is to keep politicians beholden to their backers, and scared of their backing the other candidate.

    Reply

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