Though I agree with DougJ that conservatives are allergic to facts, they do love anecdotes. Nothing disproves years of global warming research like a cold day in July, and food stamps are a waste of money because some guy somewhere traded them for a flat-screen TV. As soon as a conservative pundit has found one counterexample, he’s done all the research he’ll ever need.
So it’s no surprise that Reason came up with a new anecdote that will show that the Citizens United decision is irrelevant :
Will anybody point to the failure of eMeg’s record-busting campaign splurge and revisit their commitment to getting private money out of politics?
With a helping hand from Sully, this piece of “evidence” from the Whitman campaign will live on at the Daily Caller, Fox News and Red State long after Meg Whitman is crushed by Jerry Brown. The only problem is that the Brown/Whitman race isn’t the kind of race where Citizens United will make an impact.
Whitman is outspending Brown 6-1 in the race, but Brown has the advantage of already being well-known, and Brown has enough money to launch a significant media campaign of his own. It costs $3 million per week to do a full-state media campaign, and Brown has sufficient cash to do that in the closing weeks of the race.
The kind of race where corporate spending makes a big difference is one where the candidates don’t have enough money to launch a credible media campaign, and those races are generally for House seats. After the shit-ton of cash that was spent in California, voters know enough about Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown to form an independent opinion about the candidates. In a typical gerrymandered Congressional district, a surprising number of voters don’t even know the name of their Representative. In those races, a million bucks of corporate cash can dwarf the expenditures of either candidate, and it can make a hell of an impact in the race.
I’m sure some think tank will make a careful study of House races and show the impact of the Citizens United decision. Luckily, thanks to Reason, conservatives have already completed their study. Like all their other studies, it has a sample size of one, but it still manages to be authoritative.
Reason is the most inappropriately named magazine ever.
I pulled them out of my RSS feed long ago.
I credit Al Franken’s classic “Rush Limbaugh is a big fat idiot”, wherein he zeroes in on Reagan’s mastery of the apocryphal anecdote as the first debunker of the Conservative Sample Size.
From what I’m hearing, Whitman’s months-long ad barrage is being felt as a form of torture by many Californians. Eventually, they will find more clever uses for their unlimited streams of cash.
Sullivan has been totally unreadable lately, firmly back on the wingnut wagon. I guess the British Tory’s viscous zeal for open class warfare and putting the little guy in his place has made him proud of his nasty roots.
This year seems to demonstrate a missing ingredient – the development of leaders through the normal party process. You have self funded candidates spending huge amounts but are losing. You also have a broken GOP where losers managed to get a place on the ballot (O’Donnel, Angle, Paladino). Citizen United has allowed a shadow Republican party to fund races with resources that the Michael Steele’s GOP doesn’t presently have. I don’t know that the total amount spent is different, its just coming through a channel that isn’t the normal party structure. Is there really a Republican Party any more?
Will anybody point to the failure of eMeg’s campaign and revisit their predictions of a Republican blowout in November?
“Signs point to no.”
It’s not just conservatives. Many liberal pundits will either stupidly, unconsciously, or consciously — take your pick — twist the argument into this ridiculous insistence that you prove that money = victory.
Nobody seems to grasp things such as odds. Would eMeg be a candidate without spending this money? Would she have gotten into, much less won the primary?
Why do companies advertise? After all, advertising is no guarantee of sales. Therefore putting money into advertising has no effect.
It’s about the filter effect, and it’s about odds.
Why have the very and ultra-wealthy put such vast sums over the centuries to control every aspect of our political system? Clearly it’s because they’re naive and foolish. They’re just seeking attention.
After all, what effect could it possibly have to spend decades making it known who would be and wouldn’t be realistic candidates in terms of getting funding, or giving the candidates who you preferred extra funding, backing open or covert PR campaigns against other candidates, funding longer term propaganda institutions such as broadcast shows and publications, funding political parties such that every party and every one of its candidates know where the concentrated money comes from, funding well-connected organizations like ‘think tanks’ or brotherhoods or associations, or at the tail end of the process, going all out for or against a particular candidate at the very end of the election cycle?
Very rich people don’t pour shitloads of money into the political process because they’re stupid.
Democracy is extremely dangerous to concentrated power, though with enough money and work, they can keep that threat to merely being potential, and in the hypothetical realm rather than the real one.
Meg Whitman is spending her own money in order to win the election. That’s called transparency and Californians know who is spending the money.
When you have groups named Tax Breaks for all or you might think that they are on your side. It’s not necessarily the money, it’s the openness.
Ed in NJ
The anecdote thing is pretty spot on. Just yesterday at a benefits fair the 401K guy was dismissing the foreclosure scandal because his neighbor hadn’t payed his mortgage in over a year.
Nothing new here. I think that it was back in the Reagan era where one woman was found to be committing large scale welfare fraud so therefore all welfare recipients were committing fraud and buying Cadillacs with their ill-gotten gains.
For conservatives, the plural of “anecdote” really is “data.”
Well, you know that. And I know that.
But the hangers-on must desperately try to obfuscate the issue anyway, if but to garner favor with the neo-feudalists. It’s just how they roll.
and let’s not forget the ever-popular “I don’t know anyone who voted for (inset Democratic candidate’s name) so he must have cheated to win!”
Sully said something and so you gave him a link.
Thank you for the very valuable information.
Meh, it’s not even about the big names, Meg Whitman or Linda McMahon who donn’t depend on Citizens United anyway… it’s about the downballot races that hardly get any attention, especially judges.
And if Whitman were winning it’d be proof that California is a center-right state.
I’d argue it actually proves the whole point…
The difference between Whitman and the large number of attack ads is that everyone knows Whitman is trying to buy the election, while no one knows who is behind the other attack ads…and that is the key difference.
If there was transparency on these things, they would lose much of their impact and expose many corporations to repercussions…see Target.
Reason will argue against campaign contribution limits, and mealy-mouth around campaign disclosure rules (“Oh I support the idea, but not the current legislation”) because the money is flowing into their pockets.
They’ll also be first in line to bash Obama for opting out of public funding in 2012. And they’ll slam the idea of publicly financed campaigns because why should my tax dollars pay for your political campaign blabbity blah. Because both of these cases would involve money flowing into opponents’ pockets.
To be fair, I don’t know if there really is a good middle ground between First Amendment Rights and balanced elections. Like it or not, money IS speech. You can’t run a TV commercial or throw up a billboard for free. Campaign contribution limits were a sane middle ground, but I guess we don’t live in a sane world anymore.
Actually, a snowy day in January is good enough for FOX.
The other thing about Jerry that the Reason crowd doesn’t get–he’s just a crafty, strategic SOB. He’s been doing this forever, he knows CA like the back of his hand, and he’s watched the state evolve. He let Meg spend her tens of millions all summer and then waited until he had to step in, and did it. With a different opponent, he would have acted differently. He’s wacko in many ways, but he’s no fool.
Anecdotes are easy to digest. They are comfort food. Anecdotes are especially important for Christians–they call it “testimony.” A good anecdote, especially one that has been polished over years of retelling, is worth far more than any amount of evidence. Palin is criticized for continually changing and embellishing her anecdotes, but you have to see that as an extension of her Christian experience. Her speeches are full of her testimony; I think that is why her small group of followers are so zealous in her defense. Progressives and other good government types have nothing to counter a good anecdote.
The only “reason” Megsters is losing is because her housekeeper was illegally working and M jetisoned her after 9 years and she was ‘part of the family’. Yikes.
Will anybody point to eMeg’s catastrophic failure as a business leader and revisit their commitment to the massive executive salaries that gave her that campaign money and hundreds of millions more in the first place?
Amen and well said.
@Ed in NJ:
“The anecdote thing is pretty spot on. Just yesterday at a benefits fair the 401K guy was dismissing the foreclosure scandal because his neighbor hadn’t payed his mortgage in over a year. ”
I want to make clear when I talk about the charities that I give to, that ‘there are NO deserving poor’. Which is to say, if you are waiting to give until every person you are giving to comes up to your ideals, you will wait a long time. Find a better reason to give.
I wrote to sully about that statement and said that it proves the opposite of what it claims. Go look at any polling of the race.
In spite of Brown being well known in the state Whitman’s spending went unopposed and she climbed from a 10 point deficit at the start of the year to leading briefly in the polls. That was entirely due to money getting dumped into the campaign. She plummeted in the polls starting Labor day. That was well before the nanny story (that broke at the end of Sept) or any of the debates.
Labor day was when Brown put his first ads up. It wasn’t until he put his pile of money in the race to counter hers that the trend reversed and it now stands at the same 10 points. The lesson is that money probably *can* buy elections. If Brown hadn’t put up his 30 million, which is not much less than what Whitman is spending over this same period, she might well still be leading.
I don’t see how you can draw any conclusion other than Whitman bought her lead in the polls. And Brown bought his lead back.
Nothing disproves years of global warming research like a cold day in July
Or even a cold day in late October. It snowed here in Salt Lake City this week and sure enough, around came the mass email from one of the bosses including the obligatory “(so much for global warming)” upon mentioning it.
The first global warming denial of winter – it’s like the first robin of spring, only more anti-intellectual.
I simply don’t see how the California governor debacle relates to the C.U. in any fashion. In any case an analysis needs to address the fact that about half Whitman’s cash was spent in the Republican primary, specifically to crush a field that included actual, you know, office holders with governmental experience. It became a competition over “who is conservativestest?”
@JPL: Agree with JPL — anyone with an ability to “Reason” knows the difference of knowing where the money comes from, and secret funding of candidates.
Anyone who believes that the Supreme Court (who gave us this mess via Citizen’s United) is, or ever was, apolitical, deserves a derisive horse laugh.
This is 100 percent dead on. Anecdotes are easy to understand, easy to relate to, and they are predictable and affirming: They point out an essentially goodness that the listener then feels he/she shares with the candidate or idea being presented. In this way, they become emotionally held truths, unshakable and unassailable.
Facts, meanwhile, a messy, complicated, often unpredictable, and sometimes quite opaque. Rather than confirming your goodness and correctness like anecdotes do, they frequently undercut those notions. That’s why political campaigning based on facts is a poor idea. Better to campaign on anecdotes and call them facts.
Any bets on how long it takes for “Recall Brown” petitions to start circulating after the election? I give it three months, tops, since I’m sure the Republicans already have them ready to go.
Ozymandias, King of Ants
Jerry Brown was governor of California before most of the editors at “Reason” were even born. There’s more political experience in Brown’s fingernail clippings than is in the entire editorial board of that glibertarian piece of trash.
On top of which, California has a long history of shunning rich people seeking the governorship. Unlike New York, say, where they love billionaires as mayor and governor.
Schwarzenegger won because of his name recognition, not because of his money. So California is an outlier in that respect. In most other states, money counts for a lot in politics. California is the rare exception.