Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Big Money

One thing I've been thinking about recently is the usual sniping about how bloggers are too stupid to know which candidates should be supported, the usual Washington Insiders Knows Best line. This is in part based on the Lump of Campaign Money fallacy, the belief that there's a fixed amount of campaign dollars to be raised and spent, which of course is ridiculous. And, generally, the insiders want candidates to be beholden to them so they don't really like candidates with outsider support.

But if the netroots spend their money stupidly what does that say about the insiders and the Big Money people? Hillary Clinton has $17 million cash on hand for her re-election which she of course doesn't need given the GOP meltdown. Who are all of the idiots giving money to her? I'm not picking on Clinton, roughly the same thing could be said for lots of big name incumbents and their donors. But huge amounts of money are flowing to campaigns which don't really need it while challengers are struggling. If more people who thought nothing of writing $2000 checks to Clinton's campaign were plunking it into Francine Busby's race or Rodriguez's race against fake Democrat Cuellar, or some more challenger campaigns in November they'd be a lot better off.

The relatively small amount of money channeled through the netroots is often mocked by Those Who Know Where Our Money Should Go. But the truth is the netroots has played a critical role in helping Democrats get elected in special elections, stepping up when not enough others would.

The real misallocation of funds is to incumbents in safe seats, not a few thousand bucks to challengers with longer shot chances. Funding challengers is a risky investment which can potentially pay big future dividends. Funding incumbents with safe seats is largely just wankery.