Does Money Buy Politics?
Baseball managers will tell you that within a 162 game season they will win 50 games and lose 50 games. It’s what happens with the additional 62 games that either sends you to the World Series or sends you home for a long cold winter.
Politics 162 Games
Politics like baseball has its probabilities. A portion of the electorate will always vote Republican and a portion will always vote Democrat. The Independent voters are usually the ones who decide elections.
The big question is — does the money pumped into politics have an affect on their decisions.
Some Political Money History
George Bush was elected to two terms in spite of millions spent by billionaire financier George Soros. Republicans made John Kerry look like a rich out of touch elitist.
Barack Obama was elected to two terms in spite of millions spent by billionaire financiers the Koch Brothers. Democrats made Mitt Romney look like a rich out of touch elitist.
Does money really buy elections? Does money influence voters?
The two examples above would say no but lets examine the question a little deeper.
Is Your Vote For Sale?
Let’s examine two hypothetical politicians. One you like and the other you’re not sure about. Will a 30 second sound bite change your mind?
You could make the case that 30 second sound bites encourage us to buy all sorts of products and services. But will an attack ad on the politician you like make you rethink your decision? I would say probably not.
Now what if you’re an independent voter and don’t feel anything for either politician? Now a sound bite might make you think about one more than the other.
Is that money well spent? Or could it be that the ad is questionable or deceptive in some way?
Independents or Leaners?
I doubt any independent voters are straight down the middle. Most lean slightly left or slightly right of center. So a 30 second sound bite can be used to reinforce a position already in place.
But will a left of center message move a right of center independent? That is what millions of dollars try to do.
But I think history shows that voters don’t always respond to messages in the way Madison Avenue thinks they will. In many cases a negative message can strengthen the candidate they are trying to weaken.
According to marketing experts the largest waste of money is trying to get someone to change their mind.
Some Final Thoughts
There is one thing for certain. Negative ads work. As much as we profess our disapproval of them, making the other guy look bad is a tried and true method of influencing voters.
The end result is not always the desired outcome but you will still see the same practices in the next election cycle.
The incumbent usually has the advantage because fear of loss is always more powerful than expectation of gain. Which is why the same people are re-elected year after year.
While a case could be made that some money might sway some voters I still have faith in the American voter to do their due diligence and research each candidate before pulling the lever in the voting booth.
What’s your opinion? Does money buy elections?