Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Bernie Hates Super PACs but do Super PACs Matter?

Chris Cillizza has a great post on the lessons of 2015. He nails it on a lot of issues:

"In Monday's newspaper, I outlined the 5 lessons I learned in and from 2015 — the wackiest, least predictable year in my two decades covering politics. In the odd event you somehow missed that piece (heaven forbid!), here are those lessons — in no particular order:

* Donald Trump is here to stay.

* Hillary Clinton’s best trait as a candidate is her resilience.

* Super PACs are way overrated.

* The GOP establishment has no clothes.

* Voters want change. Badly.

I think he is right on every single one, but I want to focus here on Super PACs. I was as appalled as most liberals when with the Citizen's United decision. But when Bernie goes after HRC for having a Super PAC I tend to dismiss this as being a bit Cassandra like. I mean in a world of nuclear weapons you can't disarm by yourself.

Ok, Bernie doesn't have one but Bernie doesn't have the amount of firepower pointing his way that Hillary does from the Koch Brothers. What is not appreciated is that all those FOIA requests put in to the State Department demanding her emails where from none other than Citizen's United itself-and similar Right wing legal groups.

But what this primary season has pointed to so far is that, in any case, Super PACs may well be overrated. Scott Walker and Rick Perry had all the Super PAC money you could want but were the first two out of the primary.

Jeb Bush has a $100 billion dollar Super PAC.

"The political world is discovering an unsettling truth: Money isn’t everything. The latest evidence comes from the just-expired presidential campaign of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican who dropped out on Tuesday, saying, “This is not my time.” Jindal had wallowed in the low single digits in polls and was relegated to the undercard debates even though groups allied with his campaign consistently ranked among the top sponsors of TV ads in Iowa."

"Or consider the staggering confession made by conservative billionaire Charles Koch last month. The man who along with his brother David has spent or steered hundreds of millions of dollars into reshaping U.S. politics in recent years said, in effect, that he believes he has been wasting his money. “We looked like we won. [But] as you can see by the performance, we didn't win much of anything,” Charles Koch told MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski in October. “So far we're largely failures.”

"Koch was only conceding what has become, more and more, an obvious fact. With the advent of Republican Paul Ryan as speaker of the House and a budget deal that will prevent more government shutdowns, the Koch-funded Freedom Caucus has been, for the moment, declawed. One of Ryan’s first acts as speaker? Passing a highway funding bill that also revived the U.S. Export-Import Bank, whose charter had expired June 30. Conservatives have targeted the bank, arguing it aids big businesses that shouldn’t need government assistance."

Read more:

He has been a lot more successful at the state level however, as the victims of lead poisoning in Flynt, Michigan can attest.

But at the Presidential level, spending just doesn't correlate very well with your place in the polls right now. So far, Jeb has spent $38 million dollars and according to a new CNN poll he's at 3 percent.

Next up is Rubio with $18 million-I'm rounding. He's still at a modest 11 percent in polls. Third is Hillary with $12.2 million. She's obviously doing very well-the candidate in the best shape in either party by far. But her numbers are still a distant third. Bernie has spent $7.6 million. Trump has spent: $219,000.

The irony is that while Trump and Bernie never admit to having anything in common, Trump in some ways is also running against money in Washington and certainly Super PACs. Trump told a Super PAC for him to shutdown.

He has actually gotten where he's gotten spending much less money than Bernie-$7.6 million to just $219,000. Trump's operation may not be entirely repeatable but you do wonder how campaign funding and operations in the future will change after his example.

I very much doubt that it simply goes back to the old status quo.

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