Money Matters. But How Much?

Boy, I really draw a different conclusion about Tuesday’s elections than the wisdom that’s emerging from the media. I think it underscores what Trump’s election in 2016 proved. There is a cadre of people who are extremely dissatisfied with politics as it was. And you can’t win an election simply by throwing money at it.

Yes, money continues to matter in electoral politics. But how much does it matter? Beto O’Rourke raised and spent nearly twice as much as incumbent Ted Cruz and was defeated nonetheless. On the other hand in Florida Rick Scott raised and spent about twice as much as Bill Nelson, the incumbent whom he defeated. In Missouri incumbent Claire McCAskill raised and spent more than three times as much as her challenger, Josh Hawley, and went down to defeat.

2 comments… add one
  • PD Shaw

    538 had a good article on this.

    “But decades of research suggest that money probably isn’t the deciding factor in who wins a general election, and especially not for incumbents. Most of the research on this was done in the last century, Bonica told me, and it generally found that spending didn’t affect wins for incumbents and that the impact for challengers was unclear. Even the studies that showed spending having the biggest effect, like one that found a more than 6 percent increase in vote share for incumbents, didn’t demonstrate that money causes wins. [Later notes that big donors might predict the winner and give accordingly] In fact, Bonica said, those gains from spending likely translate to less of an advantage today, in a time period where voters are more stridently partisan. There are probably fewer and fewer people who are going to vote a split ticket because they liked your ad.”

    https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/money-and-elections-a-complicated-love-story/

  • Andy

    Yeah, that’s good PD.

    I would add that the attempts to “get money out of politics” have been a universal failure. We should concede this quixotic effort, eliminate the restrictions on individual donations and add additional transparency to the system to compensate.

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