Study Downplays Outside Groups' Power

This story from indicates the real problem isn't money in politics.
Over the course of the campaign, the report found, Democratic committees and candidates outspent their GOP foes $159 million to $112 million – more than enough to compensate for the money outside GOP-leaning groups contributed toward airtime.
Democrats spent more, and lost a lot more at local, state, and national levels. What happened to the huge affect we were told to expect from Citizens United? It didn't happen. The U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision didn't seem to change spending by more than two, yes two percent. Of course, we also had several multi-millionaires wasting their own fortunes running for offices that pay under $250,000 a year.

My personal theory is that problem of "revolving doors" — politicians go into lobbying, business executives go into politics, media consultants become reporters, and every now and then they rotate positions on the chess board.
Study downplays outside groups' power
By: Alex Isenstadt
January 13, 2011 06:24 PM EST

For all the ink spilled on moneyed outside groups’ prominent role in the 2010 campaign, their influence might have been overstated.

A new study from the Wesleyan Media Project found that while outside groups spent slightly more on ads in House and Senate races in the 2010 cycle proportionately to the total amount invested in the campaign, their contributions represented only a small increase from 2000.
The one part of the election spending study mentioned can be found at:
Despite the heightened attention on independent groups over the course of the campaign, according to the study, candidates and campaign committees actually drove most of the spending. By the time the final campaign ad aired, candidates and parties paid for 85 percent of all ads in Senate races and 88 percent of ads in House races.
This particular report does point out that 54% of advertisements were negative, an increase over previous election cycles. Outside groups do tend to spend more on negative ads because they are restricted to "issue ads" instead of straight endorsements. Also, it still remains illegal for outside groups to coordinated with campaigns. So, what changed if anything?
The report also rebuts the widely held belief that Republicans vastly outspent Democrats on the airwaves.

While Democratic officials –including the Obama White House and House and Senate campaign leaders – complained about the wave of conservative outside activity, Franz noted that well-funded Democratic committees and candidates held their own.
Democrats "held their own" according to this. They actually spend more than Republicans (slightly) and the results certainly didn't reflect "holding their own" in terms of the election results.
Republican-leaning outside groups spent $30 million more than their Democratic counterparts, the study determined.

“If anything, pro-Republican groups helped keep Republican challengers competitive with the incumbent Democratic class,” the report says.
Now, I've heard people claim that this and similar studies fail to measure Fox News, talk radio, and the Internet chatter. I'm sorry, but MSNBC and DailyKos exist. If they aren't effective, that's not something the Supreme Court or anyone else can "fix" for Democrats.

As I wrote at the intro of this blog entry, the real problem is that politicians, lobbying firms, corporations, unions, et al, are nothing more than elites playing musical chairs or some other game. A politician like John Corzine (D) moves from Goldman Sachs to being governor of New Jersey and back to being a business "consultant." A former governor becomes a television pundit. A pundit runs for office… and around it goes.


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