Thursday, October 14, 2010

Could the Republican reliance on secret third party contributions undercut the 2010 "wave"?

Two step recipe for screwing up what should have been a walkover election season for the Republicans: 

One - nominate a number of unelectable candidates (like this one).

Two - get caught being arrogantly, overwhelmingly, sleazy.  Sleazy to the point of being anti-American.

One of the expected effects of the Citizens United v. FEC ruling earlier this year was the infusion of massive amounts of corporate money into this (and future) election cycles.

That expectation has come to fruition, in spades, with nearly $200 million spent by "outside" groups on U.S. Senate and House races just since September 1.

And while Democrats are leading in traditional, candidate-focused, fundraising and spending, they are being outspent by 9:1 or 10:1 depending on who is doing the scorekeeping.  All observers agree however, that Republican-leaning groups are totally swamping their Democratic-leaning counterparts.

Into that mix, add the $75 million that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is spending to buy Republican control of Congress, money raised anonymously from questionable, possibly foreign, sources.

Now stir and simmer for a bit, and then do a little polling on the subject.

Two polls came out in the last couple of days that independently reinforce each other.

One, commissioned by Allegheny College and conducted by Zogby International, shows that nearly 2/3 of Americans across all partisan, age, and economic demographics, oppose the idea of groups spending heavily in districts in which they aren't located.

The other, commissioned by and conducted by SurveyUSA, shows that 84% of all voters believe that they have a right to know who is funding political advertisements and most will be less likely to trust candidates supported by anonymous backers.

Looking at the data (and I've done an admittedly superficial overview here), the conclusion seems to be that Americans of all strips are saying -

1. Outside groups butt out!

2. If you're going to ignore that, tell us who you are and who is paying for your message, otherwise we may not vote for your candidate.

It remains to be seen if the average voter is going to look at the overwhelming support that anonymously-funded outside groups have provided for GOP candidates (almost all of whom are pushing regressive economic policies that will benefit large and foreign corporations) before casting their ballots.

Guess we'll just have to wait for the November 3rd and beyond election post-mortems to figure that out.


Thane Eichenauer said...

Its the FrankenChamber folks! Run fast and run hard to your local Democratic Party headquarters!

Congress has had at least two years to pass laws and oversee government. If the best reason to vote for Chris Coons is because Christine O'Donnell was playing an edgy Republican 20 years ago then Democrats really need to pay much more attention to the laws they pass (and their likely results).

Obama, Pelosi and Reid should be pointing to their much acclaimed historic legislation and watching as the Republicans cry themselves to sleep election night. Why isn't this happening? I am not swallowing the reason being the US Chamber of Commerce and them foreigners.

Pamela said...

Great post! Yikes-- $200 million since September! Thanks, Justice Roberts. I hope you're happy!