Can’t Buy Me Love – But How About Reelection?
posted at 11:45 pm on April 16, 2011 by Dafydd ab Hugh
President Barack H. Obama plans to raise north of one billion dollars for his reelection:
By inaugurating what could be the first $1 billion campaign in history so early, Obama has gotten the jump on a scattered GOP field reluctant to take the plunge and hits the starting line months earlier than George W. Bush did for his 2004 reelection bid.
Note that this is the amount Obama personally plans to raise; it doesn’t include the expenditures by the Democratic National Committee, monetary and in-kind contributions by labor unions and “Progressivist” corporations (that would be most of them), and of course moneys raised and spent by “independent” political groups, such as MoveOn.org, George Soros’s Open Society Institute, MALDEF, National Council of La Raza, CAIR, Big Media, the Mafia, and so forth.
The early announcement is not surprising; under Obama’s personalized version of the Live-In Constitution, the oath of office at the end of Article II, Section 1 reads:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully campaign for the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend my continued occupation of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, come regulatory hell or confiscatory taxes.
The current campaign-spending record is $740.6 million, spent in 2008 by some fellow with the amusing, sound-alike name of Barack H. Obama — which itself eclipsed the previous record of $345 million spent by George W. Bush for his successful 2004 reelection by a whopping 115%.
(John McCain also outspent Bush in the same 2008 election, but by a paltry $23 million.)
The odds are good that Obama can do it — raise the money, that is. (I wonder how much of it will come, directly or indirectly, by a commodius vicus of recirculation, from his stimulus scheme?) But that begs the more arresting question: Does such staggering spending truly guarantee reelection for the Obamunist?
In general, the political establishment says yes, it does. The nomenklatura believe that there is a direct, one-to-one correspondence between money spent and votes received. Thus, our spendthrift president merely extends his claim that all government spending is stimulative to the equally vacuous premise that all campaign spending is effective: You may not like ObamaCare the first fifty times you see a commercial extolling it; but the 51st time — or the 74th, or the 293rd time (billion-dollar pockets run deep) — it will seem suddenly brilliant and indisputable.
Hence the meme that the biggest campaign spending spree wins the election, via argumentum ad infinitum. What I tell you five thousand times starts to sound true.
I cannot seem to find a site that lists the campaign expenditures for each major candidate for every presidential election; but I’m sure that it’s usually the case that the biggest spender wins. However, I’m equally sure that there have been occasions, even in electing a president, where the biggest spender was the biggest loser.
Here is what’s wrong with the reasoning. Most of the time, the guy with the most money is also the guy with the largest number of contributors. But recently, we’ve begun seeing a disconnect between those two measurements. In particular, with every election, the Democrats become more and more the party of the rich and agitated. Nowadays, the mean average size of Democratic contributions is considerably larger than for Republicans: The pachydermic pretender receives much smaller checks from many more people, while the Donkey king receives humongously larger checks from a much smaller number of contributors.
When average contribution amount per contributor is similar between the parties, then moneys received is a good proxy for electoral support. But when a large gap yawns between the parties, then a candidate can receive less money overall than his opponent, yet still have a significantly larger base of support in a one man, one vote election.
At that point, the big-money low-support candidate must use some of that moolah, not to put too fine a point on it, to butter-up, browbeat, bribe, and even bamboozle voters to support him:
- Vote for Joe because that’s what all the smart people like you are doing.
- — because you won’t get a moment’s peace if Joe loses.
- — because Joe will “bring home the bacon” (and make you pay for it later in taxes; but you’ll pay them anyway, and this way you’ll get something as well as forking something over).
- — because Joe supports everything you stand for… and everything your mortal enemy stands for, too!
In the present case, for example, President B.O. will spend hundreds of millions of 2012 dollars trying to make voters believe that his reelection he is a spending-cutter, strong on national defense, a great believer in American exceptionalism, a health-care reformer, and above all, a big-time job creator; that he’ll “soak the rich” for trillions of dollars of free money, just for you; that if you vote Republican, your grandmother will be forced to live under a rock and eat dog food; and that Obama’s reelection is inevitable anyway, because he’s the strong horse!
Imagine an ad buy pushing all of the above… a billion dollars worth. Well, you don’t need to imagine; just wait a couple of months, and you can watch it unfold in “reel” time.
So why aren’t I putting my head through a noose and pulling the trigger? Because something monumental has changed since the election of Bill Clinton: Americans are no longer hogtied to the Magpie Media. “Intellectual dissent” no longer comprises a chronically constipated George Will sniffing in on This Week with David Brinkley. Today, with a myriad of channels through which the average Dick and Jane can harvest the news, from outré television outlets like Fox News Channel and CBN, to conservative news-sites like Newsmax or the Washington Times, to a yearly raft of conservative books, to YouTube, Farcebook, Twitterdom, and direct e-mail. Patterico put it succinctly:
One of the most important points of Andrew Breitbart’s new book is that conservatives can use New Media to fight Big Media’s narrative — and to reshape it according to the truth.
Obama focuses obsessively on trying to control the new media; he seems unaware that nobody possibly can: Even if the president spammed every e-mail account in the United States, I doubt he would net more than a handful of “road-to-Washington” conversions. Because the new media is to a large extent a distributed, non-local, unregulated, non-heirarchical communications model — one that is rapidly being folded into the Popular Front for Liberty — the very act of trying to dominate it turns consumers off.
If Obama is as ham-fisted with new media as he has been with the old, even his supporters will find themselves unmotivated to motivate to the polls; they will stay home in droves next year.
Presidential candidates need to learn what information and politicking their potential voters truly want from them. And honestly, what most of us really want is a deeper, more adult discussion of policies, as opposed to condescending head-patting and tut-tutting, coupled with extortive threats and sepulchral prophecies of doom. Democrats are real wizards at firing off phosphoric fabulation; but their content, based upon the Think Progress and Hufflepuffington Post model, leaves so much to be desired that often it can’t even inspire the choir.
This election, this time, the GOP has the substance, the gravitas, and also the means to slither around the three-headed gate-keeper to get meaningful information into the hands and minds of the voters. And not all the money in the world spent spewing the same old Spam in a can is going to give Lucky Lefty any advantage against any reasonable Republican nominee. (Note I said reasonable; if the GOP nominates Donald Trump, all bets are off.)
Obama may still win; but if so, it will certainly not be because he burned his mountain of cash like a Kwakiutl potlatch.
Cross-posted on Big Lizards…