Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Money and Trash Talk - Is it really what it takes to win?

"Money money money money, money
Some people got to have it
Some people really need it
Listen to me y'all, do things, do things, do bad things with it
You wanna do things, do things, do things, good things with it
Talk about cash money, money
Talk about cash money- dollar bills, y'all......"
(From "For The Love of Money", by the O'Jays )

Last night, the Florida Republican Primary came to a close with Willard Mitt Romney winning the contest with a 46% share of the vote.  Mr. Gingrich, as expected was the runner up with Messrs Santorum and Paul bring up third and fourth place respectively.   This wasn't really a surprise as for some time most polling had Mr. Romney winning the primary.  The questions would be "By how much and Why?"   Well,  for one thing, money proved to be the grease that made the Romney machine run smoothly.  Some data for your consideration below:

Mitt Romney - Total votes:  771,842
Newt Gingrich - Total votes: 531, 294
Rick Santorum - Total votes: 222,248
Ron Paul - Total votes: 116,776

Total votes cast for the four:  1,642,160

Mitt Romney spending (advertising) in Florida:  $15,389,287
Newt Gingrich spending (advertising) in Florida: $3,389, 807

So, a little math tells us that Mr. Romney's victory (at least from an ad-buy spend) cost him $19.94 per vote.  Mr. Gingrich was better at the economics of cost per vote with him spending $6.38 per vote, but alas, he came in second.

A couple of other data points for your consideration.   In the state of Florida, there are about 11 million registered voters in a state with a population of about 19 million.  So, about 58% of the population in Florida are registered voters and this is understandable given the demographics which consider a higher median age that most other states.  Lots of retirees there as we all know.  In Florida, there are, according to the Florida Division of Elections, about 4 million registered Republicans.  So, in last night's primary, about 41% of the registered Republicans (assuming all 1.6m who voted were Republicans) participated in the vote. 

This means that the total ad buy for just Romney and Gingrich accounted for 1.6 million votes, which effectively cost the campaigns and their SuperPacs $11.43 per vote.   Okay, just a little more math.  According to this article in The Daily Beast,  a staggering 92% of the ads were considered "negative ads". In other words, over $17 million dollars was spent to decry another candidate and tell the good people of Florida why NOT to vote for the other guy.

Also, noted in the Daily Beast article, was a citation that the McCain campaign of 2008 spent $11 million on his entire primary campaign.  Romney spent 36% more on winning just the state of Florida that McCain did in his entire 2008 primary campaign. 

So, is this what it takes to win?  Sadly, it seems so.  Since 2008, we've seen spending on political campaigns exponentially increase thanks to the odious decision from the Supreme Court in Citizens United, which basically said money equals speech and that contributions could be made in an unlimited and undisclosed fashion.  Romney is a wealthy man, and last time around put about $40 million of his own money into a failed campaign in 2008.  He doesn't need to do that anymore.  No candidate does.  If a corporation, a union, a billionaire Saudi prince, Chinese businessman, or just about anyone else wants to, they can put as much money toward a particular candidate that they want.  A billionaire casino magnate named Sheldon Adelson has pumped $15 million into Newt Gingrich's SuperPac.  Really, anyone who wants to can put this money towards their candidate of choice and likely will assuming they will reap a positive return should their candidate win.  So, we've come to this.  Our candidates are now commodities like so much pork belly or coffee or gold, to be invested in by monied interests who are assuming that the payoff will be large.  

We have of course had money and influence in politics as long as we've had politics, but this has gotten ridiculous.  The average voter, whom usually doesn't have millions to contribute to a candidate, is often lost as to who support because they are inundated with political messages crafted and paid for by the influential that are slick, Madison Avenue quality ads.  These ads attempt to convince the voter that the other guy is a pig and that the "safe" vote is for their guy.  They attempt to wrap their candidate in a veil of super patriotism and intelligence, and contrast their opponents in a light that would make one think they aren't running against another American, they are running against some monster who will come and eat your children during the night.  And these are just the candidates of the same parties who one would think might agree on most things.  I shudder to see what the general election is going to look like. 

There are as Mr. Gringrich says, 46 states to go in the GOP primary contest.  Gingrich has said he's in it to the end.  If so, look for more of the same and millions upon millions of dollars being spent calling each other names.  I wish, going forward on all the remaining ballots, we could vote for a candidate named "Nobody". At least that candidate wouldn't be spending millions of dollars on negative ads and calling the others names.  Unfortunately, thanks to Citizens United, I think this is only the beginning of a very, very ugly election year.

Tell me what you think,


1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:36 AM

    "Nobody" sounds like a good choice to me too. Frugal and never goes negative.