Sunday, October 31, 2010
Outside groups contribute most to campaign spending this year.
As I was reading the news today, an interesting story appeared in the Christian Science Monitor saying that Colorado was the number one destination for outside interest groups spending money on campaign ads. Even more interesting was that much of this money was from undisclosed spenders. The seventh congressional district in Colorado where Republican Ryan Frazier is seeking to defeat incumbent Democrat Ed Perlmutter is the number 1 destination for special interest money, according to the article “Total undisclosed outside spending for this House race alone (the Colorado 7th) is nearly $3.5 million – in a district with just 287,402 registered voters.”
In the past, campaign money usually came primarily from the Republican and Democratic Party committees but in the 2010 election spending from special interest has greatly overtaken spending by either of the parties. This year, political spending by outside interest groups is through the roof totaling a record high of nearly $455 million. Furthermore, a lot of this money, almost a fourth, has come from undisclosed donors.
Some of this spending could be contributed to a recent Supreme Court decision which struck down a ban on political advocacy ads by corporations and unions. However, the article says that much of this spending could have taken place anyway through various other means. As has historically been the case in politics, the candidate with the most spending usually has an edge in a political race, especially in races with no incumbent, but it seems this is even more the case now since 168 congressional races have been affected by outside spending (according to the article.)
Special interest groups and their attempts to influence the political process are exactly what we have been talking about in our discussion of Rise and Decline of Nations. The idea that campaign spending is more important than anything else is a scary one. This makes races not so much about the candidates but about the ads running against them since most ads these days seem to be negative ones. Hopefully voters can see through these ads and do their own research, but, as we have learned in class, this is unlikely and voters will more than likely get most of their election information from ads, leading credence to the idea that congressional seats can, in fact, be bought.