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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Thursday, September 7, 2023

DeSantis Money

Our most recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. The 2024 race has begun.

DeSantis is doing very very poorly.

 Alex Isenstadt and Jessica Piper at Politico:

Of the 50 donors who gave at least $160,000 in the years leading up to his 2022 reelection campaign, only 16 — less than a third — provided funds to the super PAC Never Back Down, which can receive unlimited contributions, through the end of June. Eight other major donors gave directly to his presidential campaign but not the super PAC.

The top 50 list includes five donors who are now financially supporting rival presidential candidates. And of those who are giving money to the DeSantis campaign or his super PAC, five are splitting their funds with other candidates.

The inability of DeSantis to convert more of his gubernatorial donors into presidential ones is emblematic of a larger shortcoming of his current campaign. And it presents particular problems for the governor precisely because his operation has leaned so heavily on the super PAC to perform basic campaign functions.

Tim Miller explains why relying on a Super PAC is a bad idea:

Political dollars went a long way back in 2000, when, according to Pew, 56 percent of Americans watched their local TV news. That same year, 23 percent got news from this newfangled thing called The Internet with only 3 percent visiting partisan “online magazines like or National Review Online.” That meant political campaigns could reach a huge chunk of voters through ads during the morning and evening news broadcasts, where they had a captive DVR-less audience with relatively few other inputs about the state of the campaign.

We could not have a more different information ecosystem going into 2024. Campaign content about the presidential race is being delivered in surround sound to voters every day. From Facebook to TikTok to sports radio shows that are mixed with redpilled punditry, the news environment is all-consuming. For the political partisans most likely to vote in primaries, there is now an entire universe of “news” outlets and social media accounts with massive followings unleashing a firehose of information with questionable veracity to voters through the phone in their pocket every second of the day.


HERE’S THE REALITY: If the Never Back Down PAC had spent every dime that has thus far gone to TV ads and canvassers on sculpting a giant golden idol alongside I-80 in central Iowa that depicts DeSantis kicking an immigrant child in the ass, there is no available evidence that their candidate would be worse off than he is today. Hell, he might even have gained a point or two with the MAGA base for such a lib-owning, Alpha maneuver.


This is not to say that TV ads and other traditional tactics are completely worthless in every instance. Nor does it mean that super PACs can’t make a difference in places on the margins by trying to peel off small percentages of swing voters or low-propensity voters. They can. Some of the more creative ones have been successful at doing so.

But that’s not at all what these campaign-approved PACs are trying to achieve. They are attempting to mass communicate to a highly informed, highly engaged partisan electorate and create movement at scale for their candidates. They are doing so amid a cyclone of content about their leading opponent with no plan to address it.

Sending paid door knockers and inside-the-box TV ads into that environment is just pissing into the storm.

And the super PAC TV money does not go far as elections approach.  PACS HAVE TO PAY A LOT MORE FOR TV. FROM RBR:

With this election, your station needs to be ready to comply with all of the FCC’s political advertising rules.

Lowest unit charges (or “Lowest Unit Rates”) guarantee that, in the 45 days before a primary and the 60 days before a general election, legally qualified candidates get the lowest rate for a spot that is then running on the station within any class of advertising time and particular daypart.


In modern political elections, where PACs, Super PACs and other non-candidate interest groups are buying much political advertising time, broadcasters need to remember that these spots don’t require lowest unit rates. Even if the picture or recognizable voice of the candidate that the PAC is supporting appears in the ad, spots that are sponsored by an independent organization not authorized by the candidate do not get lowest unit rates (note, however, that spots purchased by independent groups featuring the voice or picture of the candidate may trigger public file and equal opportunities obligations for the station if the station decides to run those spots).  Stations can charge these advertisers anything that the station wants for non-candidate ads – no need to stick to lowest unit rates.