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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Monday, May 11, 2015

HRC and Super PACs

Maggie Haberman and Nicholas Confessore report at the New York Times:
Hillary Rodham Clinton will begin personally courting donors for a “super PAC” supporting her candidacy, the first time a Democratic presidential candidate has fully embraced these independent groups that can accept unlimited checks from big donors and are already playing a major role in the 2016 race.
Her decision is another escalation in what is expected to be the most expensive presidential race in history, and it has the potential to transform the balance of power in presidential campaigning, where Republican outside groups have tended to outspend their Democratic counterparts.
But, the honest truth is that Clinton isn't likely to be heavily pressed on the question by anyone other than the media. Why? Because for all the sturm und drang about the corrosive role that money plays in politics, there's very little evidence that anyone outside of a narrow swath of committed campaign finance reformers would even consider making it a voting issue in 2016.
Take a look at Gallup's polling on the most important issue(s) facing the country. Asked an open-ended -- meaning, no possible answers were given -- question on the most important problem in the country, one in three people in early April said something that fell under the broad "economy issues" umbrella. Here's a look at what the other seven in ten said. (The numbers on the far left are from the April poll; moving left to right the numbers come from Gallup surveys in March, February and January, respectively.)
There isn't a mention of "money" or "campaign finance" or any other synonym for them in the lot. The category that gets closest to money in politics is the one percent of respondents who said "elections/election reform" were the biggest problem facing the country. But, even that's generous given that "election reform" can also encompass voter ID measures, polling place hours or even how primaries or general elections are conducted.
And, it's not just the poll numbers. Think back to the 2010 and 2014 elections. In each, Democrats -- from the White House on down -- tried their damndest to make where Republicans were getting their campaign contributions an issue. Harry Reid, then the Senate majority leader, lambasted the Koch brothers almost daily from the floor of the U.S. Senate in 2014. And yet, it didn't seem to make much of a difference as Republicans romped in both elections.