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Sun Dec 25, 2016, 11:35 AM

 

Yes, Money Still Talks in Politics

Yes, Money Still Talks in Politics

BY KATHY KIELY | DECEMBER 22, 2016

Here are an expert's tips on how to follow it.

In our post-election series on #Keeping Democracy Alive, we’ve been soliciting essays and opinions of some of the people on the front lines of that battle. As part of that effort, Kathy Kiely sent five questions to Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan nonprofit that provides data on campaign contributions and other information on the relationships between donors and political decision-makers.

Kathy Kiely: In the most recent presidential election, the candidate who raised the most money didn’t win. Why should people still worry about the influence of money on politics?

Sheila Krumholz: In a very real sense, money did win, just not in the way we’re accustomed to measuring it. Trump raised about $248 million ­— $322 million including all of the allied super PACs like “Great America PAC” and “Rebuilding America Now.” Not exactly chump change, but Clinton raised double that: The campaign alone raised nearly $500 million; $700 million including allied outside groups.

But in presidential general election campaigns, money typically ceases to be the barrier to success for major-party nominees that it can be in the primary or for third-party candidates. Once the general election candidates reach a point of financial viability, it’s less about the money and more about their appeal as candidates and their ability to connect with voters. Neither Trump nor Clinton was hampered by a lack of cash. In fact, both candidates ended the campaign with leftover funds; Clinton with $62 million and Trump with $15 million.

But Trump had been running long before he started to seriously chase campaign cash. And during that time, he earned unprecedented free media. He already was masterful at working the media based on his longstanding reality show, The Apprentice, his beauty pageants (Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, and Miss Universe) and his books (The Art of the Deal, The Art of the Comeback). It was enormously beneficial that he was already a household name in America. On the campaign trail, he was a walking, talking reality show, fomenting political controversy wherever he went and seeming to embrace the notion that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Arguably he was right. Interviewers often let him hold forth without much, if any, fact-checking or debate. He’s a masterful operator in (some would say “of”) the media and publicity spheres that so often mirrors the political sphere. By that measure he had “spent” $4.3 billion through July...

Read more:
http://billmoyers.com/story/yes-money-still-talks-politics/


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