In the News Sioux Falls Argus Leader: 5 looming campaign ethics questions facing South Dakota By Dana Ferguson The sprawling reform package, known in South Dakota as Initiated Measure 22, was designed to limit the influence of outside money in state government. The 34-page law, narrowly passed by voters Nov. 8, creates strict new rules on […]
Social Science Research Network: The Academy, Campaign Finance, and Free Speech under Fire (In the News)
By Bradley A. Smith
This short essay, part of a symposium on “Free Speech Under Fire” at Brooklyn Law School, argues that academic efforts to fit campaign finance restrictions within the rubric of the First Amendment have distorted First Amendment doctrine, and contributed to a decline in respect for free speech generally. The essay briefly reviews and critiques recent scholarship by Robert Post (“Citizens Divided”), Richard Hasen (“Plutocrats United”), Larry Lessig, and Zephyr Teachout.
By Tan Siok Choo
Although full spending reports haven’t been submitted, assuming both candidates spent all that they raised, as at Oct 28 this year, Clinton’s war chest totalled an astronomical US$687 million (RM3 billion), more than double Trump’s US$307 million.
Despite blanketing six states – Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Iowa – with 299,067 ads supporting Clinton compared with 89,995 ads for Trump, the former secretary of state lost all states except Nevada, Ken Kurson of the Observer noted.
“Money can’t buy love, it can’t buy votes. All it can do is help deliver a message. The voters didn’t want what Clinton offered,” David Keating, president of the Center for Competitive Politics, said.
Unsuccessful candidates often blame their loss on an opponent’s spending. Sometimes those complaints are lodged at better-funded candidates, sometimes at the media, and other times at independent groups. So it is with Zephyr Teachout, whose main takeaway from the 2016 election, apparently, is that people talked about it too much. After losing to Republican John […]
By Bradley Smith
Consider that Hillary Clinton’s campaign outspent Trump by more than two-to-one. Pro-Clinton ads outnumbered pro-Trump ads by three-to-one. Independent groups (the “super PACs”) supporting Clinton outspent independent groups supporting Trump by three-to-one. The average contribution to Trump was smaller than the average contribution to Clinton. And on and on it goes.
We’re told by campaign finance “reformers” that we must restrict spending in politics so that “people” can have their voices heard. But voters in 2016 ultimately chose the candidate without even a “real” super PAC to speak of.
This tells us two things: First, that money is simply the facilitator by which candidates speak to voters, but that voters will make up their own minds. Second, it shows us that money simply can’t make up for a message that people aren’t interested in. After his defeat, the man in charge of Jeb Bush’s $100 million super PAC remarked of the voters: “They just weren’t buying what we were selling.”
Let’s hope the same goes for tired tropes on money in politics.
If there’s one thing that’s obvious about the 2016 election cycle, it’s that it was huge for outsider candidates. Besides Donald Trump’s surprise victory, Senator Bernie Sanders also led a strong insurgency against Secretary Hillary Clinton. This phenomenon led to a greater fixation on “money in politics” from the anti-establishment candidates. Democrats, especially Bernie Sanders, […]