Daily Media Links 11/10: Another way Trump’s bid changed politics, Clinton Defeat Proves Donors Can’t Always Buy Elections, and more…

November 10, 2016   •  By Alex Baiocco   •  
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In the News

Observer: Donald Trump Didn’t Just Win; He Won With Unprecedented Efficiency

By Ken Kurson

According to figures compiled by the Center for Competitive Politics, an Alexandria group that opposes caps on political spending, Clinton’s campaign outspent the Trump campaign by more than 2 to 1…

One of the lessons from this experience comes from David Keating, the president of the Center for Competitive Politics. “Money can’t buy love, and it can’t buy votes. All it can do is help deliver a message. The voters didn’t want what Clinton offered.”…

Keating points to a well-known fact about moneyed candidates: “Lots of politicians spend tons and get few votes or lose.” He told the Observer about a bunch of recent debacles: “Jeb Bush and his super PAC were way ahead in the money race. He got 4 delegates to Trump’s 1543. David Trone spent nearly $10 million of his own money in a Maryland Democratic primary this year. And lost. Napoleon Harris spent $2.1 million the Illinois Democratic primary for Senate, and lost. In 2012, Linda McMahon spent nearly $50 million in personal funds in her CT Senate general election race, and lost. David Dewhurst spent nearly $20 million out of his pocket and lost to Ted Cruz in the [US Senate] primary.”  


Trump Exposes the Myth that Money Buys Elections

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP), America’s largest nonprofit defending First Amendment political speech rights, released the following statement on the results of the 2016 Presidential Election, in which Donald Trump was elected despite being vastly outspent by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

“The idea that money buys elections was disproven again last night by Donald Trump,” said CCP President David Keating. “Trump and his allies were outspent by huge margins. Money allows candidates and groups to speak. Voters decide based on their beliefs. It’s time to put aside the discredited idea that money buys votes. Instead, we should focus on expanding First Amendment freedoms for all Americans.”

Money Doesn’t Buy Elections: 2016 Presidential Election Edition

By Scott Blackburn

With the election of Donald Trump and the defeat of Hillary Clinton, we are reminded once again that the role of money in politics cannot buy results, and that no matter how much money is spent or political ads are run, it is voters who decide the race…

The lesson is clear: political spending is an avenue for speech – it is necessary to buy political ads, to get a candidate’s message out, and pay for the numerous costs of a campaign, among other things. But despite many claims to the contrary, elections are not “bought” by millionaires and billionaires – they are decided by voters who either buy a candidate’s message or do not.

In the coming weeks and months, there will be many lessons to take away from Trump’s upset victory, but one should surely be that, despite many claims by advocates of greater speech regulation, wealthy individuals and the so-called “special interests” do not and cannot use money to decide the outcomes of elections.

Independent Groups

CRP: $1.4 billion and counting in spending by super PACs, dark money groups

By Robert Maguire

Setting a new record and driving much of the higher cost of this year’s elections over 2012’s, outside groups that weren’t formally connected to either political party broke $1.4 billion in outlays in the 2016 cycle. That’s up from the $1 billion these groups – mostly super PACs and 501(c) organizations – spent in 2012, and way up from the $338 million spent in 2008.

Dark money groups spent almost $181 million in 2016, down from their record of more than $308 million in 2012. That was largely because of a lack of enthusiasm these organizations seemed to have about the presidential race. Down-ballot races, and the Senate in particular, saw considerable dark spending, and a lot of a success.

Wisconsin John Doe

Wisconsin Watchdog: Voters reward John Doe prosecutors at the polls

By M.D. Kittle

Change and the fall of the “establishment” candidate were definitely the themes in this year’s election.

But the song remains the same in Dane and Milwaukee counties, where the district attorneys who brought Wisconsin the infamous John Doe investigation ran unopposed.

And while the three Democrats did not face challengers in Tuesday’s general election, they picked up a plenty of votes.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, who in August 2012 launched the politically driven campaign finance probe into conservative groups and Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign, received 311,783 votes in the Democratic Party stronghold, according to unofficial election results.

Candidates and Campaigns

USA Today: Another way Trump’s bid changed politics

By Fredreka Schouten

Republican Donald Trump raised half of what Democrat Hillary Clinton did and still barreled past her to win Tuesday’s presidential election.

California billionaire Tom Steyer, who directed more than $60 million of his hedge-fund fortune to help persuade voters to turn out for Democrats, saw Republicans sweep to control of the White House and both chambers of Congress.

The 2016 elections became the latest in a string of volatile federal elections to challenge long-standing notions about the role of money in politics. The 2010 midterm congressional races, for instance, saw upstart Tea Party candidates topple well-funded incumbents around the country as voters grappled with a tough economy and concerns about the Affordable Care Act.

Money can help in a competitive race, but “it can’t make up for a sea change in the views of the electorate,” said Fred Malek, a veteran Republican fundraiser who is finance chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

Forbes: Clinton Defeat Proves Donors Can’t Always Buy Elections

By Noah Kirsch

Clinton’s defeat did not just display the limited significance of aggregate fundraising, but also the finite power of mega-donors oftentimes perceived as partisan kingmakers. Trump received support from just a handful of the country’s billionaires…

Conversely, Clinton drew enthusiastic backing from a cadre of high net worth allies, from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to high-profile environmentalist Tom Steyer, investor Warren Buffett, TV show mogul Haim Saban, and Walmart heiress Alice Walton. Three billionaires, George Soros, Steven Spielberg, and James Simons, donated a combined $15 million to a PAC supporting her campaign. Others piled on further.

Those efforts weren’t enough, and as Tuesday’s outcome unequivocally reveals, political power ultimately lies with the American electorate-in this case an electorate so frenzied and indignant that no amount of outside money could channel their votes.  

CRP: Where the money came from, not how much, mattered in the presidential race

By Ashley Balcerzak

Trump’s ultimate strength may be rooted in the fact that he was far less reliant on large donors – those giving more than $200. He could afford to do that given a seemingly unending stream of free media attention and the fact that he was throwing millions of his own money into the mix. While 54 percent of Clinton’s campaign account was filled with donations over $200, the equivalent figure for Trump was just 15 percent. (Clinton raised $266 million in large donations, while Trump only brought in $38 million from that pool of donors.)

Instead, 27 percent of Trump’s entire campaign chest came from small donors (checks of $200 or less), compared with Clinton’s 18 percent. That’s a low share: Obama received 32 percent of his funds from small donors and 44 percent from large ones in 2012.

Daily Caller: Trump Won America Spending Less Per Vote Than A Sandwich

By Kathryn Watson

Republican President-elect Donald Trump beat one of the most well-funded candidates in U.S. history by spending less per-vote than the cost of a sandwich, undermining the conventional wisdom that money is the important factor in elections…

Trump’s victory with less than $5 per vote directly challenges the notion that there is too much money in politics, and invalidates calls for stricter campaign finance laws from the political left.

Trump’s win in the early hours of Wednesday morning flew in the face of all but a few polls, most of which predicted a comfortable Clinton victory, and turned pundits upside down, most of whom claimed Trump couldn’t beat Clinton’s superior fundraising and ground game. 

Northeast Public Radio: After Loss To Faso, Teachout Vows To Continue To Fight For Democracy

By Allison Dunne

Democrat Zephyr Teachout attributed her loss in the race for New York’s 19th Congressional district in great part to SuperPAC money in support of her Republican opponent John Faso. She vowed to continue fighting for democracy.

Teachout began her concession speech this way:

“We’ve got a lot of work to do. It has been a bad night for honest, respectful democracy across the country,” Teachout says…

“This was a race inside the post-Citizens United world,” Teachout says. “And, in that race, it wasn’t me against John Faso. It was all of us against a handful of billionaires who were using misleading SuperPAC attack ads.”

For most of the race, polls showed it neck-and-neck, but the last Siena College poll the weekend before the election gave Faso a 6-point lead. Teachout, who ran against Governor Andrew Cuomo in the 2014 Democratic primary, wants Citizens United, which allows for unlimited corporate spending in political campaigns, overturned.  

The States

Northwest Cable News: I-1464 state campaign finance reform failing

Election returns show the majority of voters are saying no to campaign finance reform statewide.

While still too close to call, 53% of people voted to reject Initiative 1464 as of Wednesday afternoon.

I-1464 would tighten restrictions on lobbyists, limit their ability to contribute to campaigns, increase disclosure requirements, and create “democracy credits,” giving voters 150 dollars in credits to spend on state legislative races.

The initiative went before voters statewide after Seattle voters passed the “democracy vouchers” campaign finance reform initiative a year ago.

Alex Baiocco

Alex Baiocco