Open Thread: No Value for GOP Money


(Ben Sargent via GoComics.com)
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I’m still having trouble wrapping my mind around the Sunlight Foundation‘s calculation of ROI (return on investment) for Karl Rove’s donors:

… Turns out some of the smart money wasn’t so smart after all when it came to making political bets. This year, the pro-business GOP Crossroads fundraising combine and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce weren’t as good at picking winners as the labor movement, which appears to be one of the surprise winners of Election Day.

Using Follow the Unlimited Money, Sunlight calculated returns on investment for the outside groups that gave the most during this year’s general election campaign. This includes super PACs, non-profit organizations and political party committees. We left out the big committees focused solely on helping presidential contenders — Restore Our Future, which backed Mitt Romney, and Priorities USA, which supported President Barack Obama — because their won/loss percentage will be obvious from the election results. The groups listed below all played in more than one contest….

AMERICAN CROSSROADS
ROI — 1.29%
Total spent campaign 2012: $104,710,472

1.29% of $103,559,717 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
Supported 0 winning candidates; 0.00% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
Opposed 2 losing candidates; 1.29% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

CROSSROADS GRASSROOTS POLICY STRATEGIES
ROI — 14.40%
Total spent campaign 2012: $70,709,963

14.40% of $70,709,963 spent in the general election and ending in the desired result.
Supported 0 winning candidates; 0.00% of money went to supporting winning candidates.
Opposed 7 losing candidates; 14.40% of money went to opposing losing candidates.

It’s not just that the ROI was so much better for “left wing” progressive groups like SEIU (84.65% and 74.94%) or Planned Parenthood (97.82% and 98.59%) than Turdblossom’s sinkhole — it’s just that those self-styled Masters of the Universe could’ve gotten better odds at any of Sheldon Adelson’s casinos. So it looks like the Kochs and their business buddies actually chose to throw their money away, purely for the right to insult Demoncrats in all available media. Kinda brings a new meaning to the phrase “mad money“…

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123 replies
  1. 1

    Kinda brings a new meaning to the phrase “mad money“

    Turn those machines back on!

  2. 2
    Linda Featheringill says:

    I love stories like this one!

    At some point, I hope someone will look at the limits of advertising. If advertising really worked, all the Republican candidates would have won. Right?

    Or, perhaps the US public is getting a wee bit more sophisticated.

  3. 3
    Violet says:

    I would guess that the Money is angry with Rove. His response is going to be “Give me money to spend in the primaries and we’ll get the candidates we really want, not some pretend conservative like Romney.” Grifters gotta grift.

  4. 4
    gf120581 says:

    That Sargent cartoon almost made me piss my pants. What a perfect summation of the GOP Superpac fail this election cycle and what the reaction of the Koch brothers, Adleson and others was probably like.

  5. 5
    katie5 says:

    Sunlight’s looking at the obvious races. Look at the ROI on the down ballot races and it was likely big. And this is only the first time for the Super PACs. They’ll learn how to do this better, by pushing it into GOTV.

    It’s also in the media’s best interest to downplay the impact of this money. It ensures that no one attempts to erect legislative barriers to their getting the advertising dollars.

  6. 6
    👽 Martin says:

    “We’re Masters of the Universe. The free market can’t fail us.”

  7. 7
    Yutsano says:

    Mmm…the Schadenfreude is indeed getting delicious.

  8. 8
    gwangung says:

    Sunlight’s looking at the obvious races. Look at the ROI on the down ballot races and it was likely big. And this is only the first time for the Super PACs. They’ll learn how to do this better, by pushing it into GOTV.

    Hm. Yes. I think this is a very real danger. Particularly for 2014.

  9. 9
    piratedan says:

    Republican Politics! come for the idiocy, stay for the schadenfreude!!!!

  10. 10
    Violet says:

    @gwangung: Caught something on the news today about Rove. He said he was going to double down on his spending and focus on primaries. Or something like that. I agree they’ll be all over downticket races. 2014 is going to be challenging.

  11. 11
    28 Percent says:

    Smart Money would hire a Nate Silver clone to analyze polls to detect what (besides perception of actual performance while in office) does actually influence the electorate. Smart conservative consulting on the other hand will continue to offer whopper doses of panacea and paranoia, keep bundling their ad buys and outsourcing their IT to friends’ half-assed shops, and then blame the outcome on their chosen candidate’s failure to adhere to conservative principles while they cry all the wy to the bank.

  12. 12
    catclub says:

    @Linda Featheringill: Advertising works great! Romney clobbered Santorum and Newt because he overwhelmed them (7:1, 9:1 ratios).

    If Obama had spent zero, or 1 ninth of what Romney and his allies spent, on advertising, Romney would have won. Unanswered ads work.
    Just ask Obama about his summer blitz on Romney.

  13. 13
    amk says:

    blog eated my post.

  14. 14
    Mnemosyne says:

    @katie5:

    Look at the ROI on the down ballot races and it was likely big.

    Not necessarily. Look at the Walsh/Duckworth race in Illinois. Walsh had at least two SuperPacs behind him that poured at least $2 million into getting him re-elected and yet Duckworth won with 55 percent of the vote.

    At best, you could say that by spending massive amounts of money, the Republican SuperPacs managed to keep most of their House seats, though they lost 8 total (4 to redistricting and 4 to Democrats). And … that’s about it. Democrats increased their number in the Senate and kept the White House.

    If you have to spend that much money just to keep your losses in check, you’re in trouble.

  15. 15
    amk says:

    All it takes is a fucking storm for the wingers to change their mind on ebil taxes communism.

  16. 16
    JGabriel says:

    Anne Laurie:

    So it looks like the Kochs and their business buddies actually chose to throw their money away, purely for the right to insult Demoncrats in all available media

    .

    It seems worth noting that their insulting ads may have motivated more Democrats to vote than Republicans.

    .

  17. 17
    Irving says:

    I sincerely doubt you’ll see big money going into GOTV. Ads are sexy and immediate and say everything an angel actually wants to say in public but can’t. Far easier to sell than hiring a bunch of temps.

  18. 18
    katie5 says:

    @Mnemosyne: Sure but (a) this money is chump change to these guys and (b) I’m thinking further down ticket to state legislatures. Get/keep the state legislatures and you ensure redistricting and a steady job for ALEC.

  19. 19
    El Cid says:

    So, in a political party whose elite heights are predicated upon the notion that doing anything you can to make massive amounts of money at whatever expense to anyone you get it from is not only okay but the highest moral value, super-rich funders are shocked to realize that they just donated a bunch of money to a group of people who promised them all sorts of wonderful results but mainly were saying that to them so that they could make massive amounts of money at whatever expense it caused to anyone.

  20. 20
    Mnemosyne says:

    @katie5:

    Also, IIRC, SuperPacs are not permitted to give money directly to campaigns, so they can’t do GOTV. They can try to organize their own, parallel GOTV efforts, but they would by necessity have to duplicate what the Republican candidate and RNC were already doing and either pay people to gather the same information that the RNC had or pay the RNC and then figure out how to maintain/update their own database.

    There are some real weaknesses to the SuperPac system, especially now with information being so diffuse over the internet, cable TV, Tivo, etc. They would have been a lot more powerful in the days when there were only three TV networks with a captive audience.

  21. 21
    amk says:

    @piratedan: Nice. Stolen and tweeted.

  22. 22
    LeftCoastTom says:

    I wonder if the Kochs and Adelson really have the same motives here. Adelson struck me as expecting an ROI, in his case doing away with pesky unions in his casinos. The Koch brothers have spent decades throwing away money on wingnut welfare and seem to have no problems with the “dependency” that engenders, so long as the dependents are right-wing.

  23. 23
    28 Percent says:

    @catclub: Romney’s primary win may have been influenced by perceptions of how well he could raise money, but his survival was because unlike the other candidates, his support didn’t float around looking for a perfect candidate, and, also unlike the other candidates, he was neither bugfuck insane nor carrying more baggage than a 747. If Rick Perry hadn’t shown up to the debate stoned and had put in at least a halfway decent performance, Romney would have had a very, very tough scrap on his hands.

    Unanswered ads do work, but it seems to me that there very likely is a saturation point that is much lower than that we are currently experiencing.

  24. 24
    Mnemosyne says:

    @katie5:

    Democrats in California now have a supermajority in our state legislature — there are fewer than 1/3 Republicans, which means we can finally pass a budget without Republican obstruction. And, yes, tens of millions of dollars were poured into our state to try and prevent that from happening.

    Frankly, the damage you’re worrying about now was done in 2010 when so many Midwestern states went Republican. It’s too late to fix the redistricting that already happened.

  25. 25
    amk says:

    @gwangung: Aren’t superpacs banned from direct GOTV ? They’re not not even allowed to have direct links with the campaigns.

  26. 26
    Scamp Dog says:

    I love the cartoon, but I’m not impressed with the ROI analysis. Does anybody know about any articles doing a more standard social science/marketing & advertising assessment? I’m with @katie5 and @gwangung in thinking this isn’t the last time we’ll see big money in use, and some of that money will be spent figuring out more effective uses for the unlimited corporate cash.

  27. 27
    Amir Khalid says:

    While the Romney/Ryan campaign went to consultants who were at least as interested in trousering its money as in getting their candidates ahead, here (from The New York Times) is the kind of thing that the Obama/Biden campaign did. This kind of science can be a great resource for Democratic candidates in the 2014 elections.

  28. 28
    priscianusjr says:

    @Violet:

    Caught something on the news today about Rove. He said he was going to double down on his spending and focus on primaries.

    You mean they’re actually going to give him their money again?

  29. 29
    JGabriel says:

    __
    __
    katie5:

    Look at the ROI on the down ballot races and it was likely big. And this is only the first time for the Super PACs. They’ll learn how to do this better, by pushing it into GOTV.

    Not to go all pollyanna, but there’s reason to believe the SuperPACS/Masters of the Universe/Whatevers won’t be any better at it for at least a few more election cycles. The truth is that President Obama’s campaign was aided by the advice and research of social scientists, whose work the GOP has spent the last several decades insulting and ignoring.

    Those scientists won’t be eager to help Republicans get back into power.

    .

  30. 30
    AA+ Bonds says:

    To me, this is a testament to the effectiveness of Rove’s own strategy – because in most campaigns, the dumbest Democratic campaign staffer could carry it out better than whatever trust fund kid or legless radio addict is the shining star of the local Republican office

    And carry Rove’s strategy out they did, especially in Obama’s campaign offices, with a lot more attention to empirical judgement about the circumstances on the ground and a lot more flexibility in their operation

    IMO the 2012 campaign could be characterized by bipartisan adoption of Super PAC cash and bipartisan adoption of the Rovian strategy concerning how to form attacks on opponents and “negative” ads

  31. 31
    Suffern ACE says:

    @priscianusjr: if I were the dems, I’d spend a little money running ads against Karl’s candidates with the simple message of “don’t let that Washington RINO elite tell you what to do. Vote for the real conservative.”

  32. 32
    gwangung says:

    @amk: Hm. Forgotten about the ban on money to GOTV.

    On the other hand, are we entirely comfortable that there’s no workaround?

  33. 33
    Violet says:

    @priscianusjr: Yep, that’s what it sounded like. The news piece said something like, “Since Karl Rove didn’t do so well in the election, you’d think he might not be around for the next election. But Rove says he’s going to spend twice as much money next time and focus on the primaries.” So, maybe wishful thinking on Rove’s part–he has to convince the Money to give the money to him. But it sounded like he had a plan. Money likes a smart sounding plan.

  34. 34
    Fwiffo says:

    I’m not sure about this ROI formula. If your candidates are elected at a 90+% rate that probably means that you spent too much on safe bets and that your money would have been more efficiently allocated to more knife-edge races. And if you’re trying to elect some more unusual or fringe type candidates, even a fairly low win percentage might be quite a success.

  35. 35
    AA+ Bonds says:

    Obama’s campaign used an empirically improved Rovian strategy with far more attention to the audience – Rove has been superseded, as was Gingrich before him; he still has another cycle in him but soon Rove will be the same sort of relic, singing the virtues of his carburetor in a world of fuel injection

  36. 36
    AA+ Bonds says:

    @Fwiffo:

    I’m not sure about this ROI formula. If your candidates are elected at a 90+% rate that probably means that you spent too much on safe bets

    Agreed but that doesn’t mean <2% justifies the money spent

    Plus the sort of people who gave money to Crossroads will fall crazy in love for you if you tell them that complex things they don’t understand would really just be better explained in terms of profit

  37. 37
    aimai says:

    @JGabriel:

    They could hire the best, if they wanted to. But what they can’t hire is a star. dKos has a diary up from a frequent OFA volunteer who was “in on a conference call” with a mere 30,000 other volunteers with President Obama thanking them “personally” for all their help and then outlining his plan to keep the momentum going, to keep going back to them and their friends, for support with his agenda over the next four years. Rove is going to do that too–with his donors. But no one in the Republican party has the call lists and the attention span and the drive to do that with Romney’s betryed volunteers. Its clear from Obama’s speech to the troops on this phone call that he (rightly) regards every volunteer and volunteer act as transformative of the electorate itself–getting new people to vote, getting new people interested in politics, is the goal itself. All things flow from that. While for the Republicans we know from watching that creating balkanized, fearful, fiefdoms composed of a monocrop style focus on a white, classless, american identity is the goal.

    To go far back in my history as an anthropologist and back to Durkheim the two political parties envision different types of political communities–one based on mechanical solidarity and one based on organic solidarity. Obama’s America and his volunteer base are created out of different kinds of people, with different kinds of interests, who put aside their differences, focus on their commonalities, and work together using different capacities and networks to create a political reality. Rove and Koch’s ideal volunteer base is mustered through identity politics and turned out to vote on command. They have no interest in educating or activating that community in between elections or for other than angry hate mail campaigns with respect to particular legislation they want blocked.

    aimai

  38. 38
    Richard says:

    What Karl Rove might be looking forward to…

    Disposing of Incompetent Henchmen
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7hgPwyQUTc

  39. 39
    The Moar You Know says:

    Look at the ROI on the down ballot races and it was likely big.

    @katie5: Not in California. They spent like crazy here and got wiped out in every race that was remotely competitive, all the way down to my local school board.

    Oh yeah, and Cali Dems now have supermajority. History will record that the Chicago School Economics experimentation ended here first.

    As goes Cali, so eventually goes the country.

  40. 40
    amk says:

    @gwangung: That’s a million dollar question.

  41. 41
    Another Halocene Human says:

    aimai, if you’re still here I was talking about Powell, not Petraeus, in the previous thread. Now, feel free to disagree even so, but you won’t catch me defending Petraeus around here. Never cared for the guy, no reason, really, except maybe the whole war thing.

  42. 42
    Another Halocene Human says:

    Anne Laurie, love the cartoon. Made me laugh myself silly just now.

  43. 43

    @gwangung:
    ‘No workaround’? Workarounds exist. Human ingenuity is incredible.

    The question is if they’ll ever reach such workarounds. There is a process in evolution where parasite and host evolve constantly to try and outdo each other, with the result that their relationship appears not to change. The grifters in the PACs have no motivation to make PACs work more efficiently, only to find new ways to convince very rich men to pour endless amounts of money into a black hole where it will never be accounted for. Instead of being killed for wasting 53 million of Adelson’s dollars, Rove instead is going ‘Next time for sure! More money, please!’

    CU is a terrible thing that damages our democracy and should be overturned at the first opportunity – but like the current extremist GOP policies, it carries the seeds of its own destruction.

  44. 44
    Chris says:

    @LeftCoastTom:

    So long as the dependents depend on them, you mean.

    That’s what infuriates them about government welfare. It’s not people being dependent. It’s people depending on something they get to vote for every two years instead of having to crawl over broken glass on their hands and knees begging for charity from the local baron.

  45. 45
    Quincy says:

    @Violet: That’s what I found so hilarious about his “Obama suppressed the vote” comment last week. Most were so stunned by his audacity in using that specific term that they missed the grift behind it. “Obama only won because his attack ads discouraged our voters. We ‘ll just have to spend more next time to discourage their voters…”

  46. 46
    AA+ Bonds says:

    @aimai:

    Rove is going to do that too—with his donors. But no one in the Republican party has the call lists and the attention span and the drive to do that with Romney’s betryed volunteers. Its clear from Obama’s speech

    1) Obama had an extremely hard time getting anyone who voted for him in 2008 to actively work like they gave a shit about his legislative agenda in the intervening years

    2) You’re right about Rove but that’s because the Republicans were about as excited about Romney in 2012 as the Democrats were about Kerry in 2004 and there’s no big personality to rival the media-omnipresent President

  47. 47
    MikeJ says:

    @Irving:

    I sincerely doubt you’ll see big money going into GOTV.

    The big problem with spending money on GOTV is you need to be able to trust lots of underlings. When your whole party is founded on grifting, how do you staff hundreds of local offices that each have spending authority?

  48. 48
    Mnemosyne says:

    The other thing is, despite his press, Karl Rove is not actually a genius. IMO, W was just as important in planning and executing his re-election campaign in 2004 as Rove was, if not more.

    Rove is the dirty trickster, the guy who figures out how to coordinate getting anti-gay-marriage initiatives on the ballots in crucial swing states so the fundies will turn out. But planning the logistics of the actual campaign, the nuts and bolts of finding volunteers and pounding the pavement to get the vote out? Not so much.

  49. 49
    AA+ Bonds says:

    @Quincy:

    Most were so stunned by his audacity in using that specific term that they missed the grift behind it.

    Don’t overthink how Rove works; the grift was in fact the push to redefine the term “voter suppression” – attack their strengths

    You have to add in the other part of Rove’s strategy, the part that actually failed in 2012 for the Republicans: consolidate the base and don’t worry about the rest

    Rove was creating a way for the Republican base to repeat “voter suppression” over and over as an accusation against Democrats, the idea being that the idiot press will dutifully redefine the term eventually, as they did “rendition” and “interrogation” and “preemptive strike” and so on

  50. 50
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    Regarding house races, I think the results are kind of skewed, even beyond gerrymandering. Republicans gained a lot of seats (esp. in the South and West) that didn’t even exist before: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F.....e_2012.svg

    I’m disappointed, but it was not all in all a terrible night for Dems. If Bera, Barber, and McIntyre all win in their still-being-counted races, that brings the total up to +10 seats. Not a sweep, but not bad by any means, especially given what we were up against.

  51. 51
    gwangung says:

    @amk: Well, actually, no, not with unlimited corporate cash…it’s just a question that’ll eventually be answered.

  52. 52
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: GOP as the DLC revisited? From your lips to god’s ears. Screw them out of every red cent, you widdle grifters you!

  53. 53
    AA+ Bonds says:

    You have to admit Rove has had a good run – he committed treason and walked away with millions

  54. 54
    amk says:

    @AA+ Bonds: Yup. Only in murka.

  55. 55
    NonyNony says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    The other thing is, despite his press, Karl Rove is not actually a genius. IMO, W was just as important in planning and executing his re-election campaign in 2004 as Rove was, if not more.

    This. THIS. A THOUSAND TIMES THIS!

    I know that nobody on the left wants to believe that W was anything other than a useful idiot, but it’s blinding people and driving the idea that Rove is some kind of SOOOPER GENIUS.

    W was a brilliant campaigner. Absolutely brilliant. In the top 5 presidential campaigners I’ve witnessed in my lifetime (Reagan, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton are the other four).

    If he put half the effort into actually doing the job of President that he put into the campaigning, he might have actually not have been the most worthless president we’ve had in my lifetime. But since he IS the most worthless president we’ve had in my lifetime, people want to credit someone else with the “win”. And Rove slithers in to take the credit.

  56. 56
    Helen says:

    @Mnemosyne: Maybe. But did you see Colbert last night? His SuperPac laywer, Mr. Potter was on. Apparently the money remaining in the SuperPac after the election can, literally, disappear without any accounting to the FEC or the IRS. Chilling.

  57. 57
  58. 58
    Ken says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    It’s too late to fix the redistricting that already happened.

    Not according to League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry, 548 U.S. 339 (2006).

    Of course to use it, you have to get control of the state government; but since you’d have to do that in 2020 to control redistricting, why not start now?

  59. 59
    👽 Martin says:

    @Ken: Cool. I didn’t know about that case. That’s really interesting that the rule is at least one redistricting every 10 years, not only one.

  60. 60
    fleeting expletive says:

    It doesn’t feel right to say it, but I would put General Petreaus on suicide watch, were I able to. I just don’t think his kind of guy can handle not being the forever white knight.

    Ugh. I can’t believe I thought that. But I did.

  61. 61
    Mary G says:

    I am overjoyed by the election. Around the week after the first debate, I was in despair. I decided to do something about it. I had already donated a little bit to President Obama’s campaign, and decided to give him more money and get more involved in some way. I checked into working for his campaign, but they wanted me to travel to Nevada or another swing state or come into their office and my health was just not up to it. I made some calls from home, but most people were cranky and I had a hard time reading from the script.

    So I read a lot online and decided that the Democrats could not do much about the House of Representatives, but that winning as many Senate seats as possible was both doable and probable, due to massive Republican incompetency. I had some money that I had made on eBay that I was saving for a rainy day, not much but some. I picked 11 Democratic candidates that were close in the polls and sent
    them all some money – not much, ranging from $10 to $25 each (lots more $10’s than $25’s).

    They all sent thank yous, and of course, requests for more money. I ended up re-donating to nine of them, deciding that the two others were now far enough ahead of their rivals that they would succeed on their own. I also sent more little bits to the Obama campaign. My total contributions ended up a little under $400.

    I have only donated to a political campaign once before; in 1992 I sent Barbara Boxer $5 because I was so offended that a bunch of Rush Limbaugh listeners showed up to an Orange County appearance by her and screamed “FEMINAZI!!!i” at her until she left. This time, I thought it wouldn’t make any difference — how could I compete with the millions spent by Sheldon Adelson and the other billionaires supporting Karl Rove’s efforts and Romney’s campaign? But money is all I had to contribute, so I did. Here is the track record –
    counting President Obama, 11 of my 12 candidates won! Eight of Adelson’s eight candidates lost. What a great feeling.

    Here is a 30-second ad for my favorite – Senator-elect Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota: Karl Rove would never think of putting a woman candidate wearing no makeup into a batting cage!

    Her brother was her campaign manager, and he would send me emails like: Heidi met with 18 people in LittleTinyTown, ND! The polls said that she would lose,and Obama ended up losing the presidential race by like 69%-28%, but she eked it out by something like 160,000 to 157,000 votes. In the whole state, wow. I spent a lot of time election night on the web site of the secretary of state of North Dakota, a place I would have bet I would never visit in my entire life. Her opponent was going to ask for a recount, but reconsidered and conceded. Now Nate Silver of the New York Times has tweeted (half-kiddingly) that she would make a
    great vice-presidential candidate in 2016.

    This is a major big deal in America and I am totally energized. I spent 10 minutes yesterday explaining to my caregiver Karla, who voted in her first presidential
    election after being naturalized(she was a legal immigrant with a green card, by the way), that mid-term and state elections are almost more important than the big residential ones and now we need to work on getting rid
    of some House Republicans in two years. She is totally into it. So am I.

  62. 62
    Mary G says:

    Failed Heidi Heitkamp link.

  63. 63
    Yutsano says:

    @Mary G: Heitkamp is freaking amazing. She had won statewide office before plus she didn’t hide from her Democratic associations including Obama. She may yet be a DINO but we all might just be pleasantly surprised by her.

  64. 64
    gwangung says:

    @Mary G: Now THAT’S encouraging! (Unlike my rewrite of Act I Sc 4 of my play….sigh)….

  65. 65
    burnspbesq says:

    Pray for Zandar, y’all. The life of a Duke fan in Kentucky on the day after Duke beats Kentucky? Oh, man …

  66. 66
    NotMax says:

    Betting not my bag, but if anyone is yet making book on which politico the Republicans will tap to give the rebuttal to the next State of the Union address, presume Chris Christie is pegged at about 10,000 to 1.

  67. 67
    Comrade Mary says:

    I found a couple of great comments in a thread that just might kill a lot of people’s browsers, so I’ll link and quote. In short: dark money is a lot more dangerous than those ROI calculations would suggest.

    QUOTED MATERIAL STARTS HERE (link)

    There seems to be something of a consensus developing that, “Well, we really dodged a bullet with Citizens United. All that private money doesn’t really make much difference at all in elections. Democracy wins!” Besides the obvious point I made above — that if you subtracted the $1 billion plus in Dark Money, Democrats may have done MUCH better than they did — I’d like to make a less obvious point: The Dark Money enabled the Republican Party to get its 47% of the vote with far more extreme policy positions than they could have maintained absent the Dark Money.

    The equations go something like this:

    With Dark Money: More extreme positions + $800 million of Dark Money spent convincing people that “extreme positions are really super good!” + $1 billion of own money = 47% of the vote

    Without Dark Money Possibility #1: More extreme positions (as above) + $1 billion of own money = 35-40% of the vote

    Without Dark Money Possibility #2: More moderate positions + $1 billion of own money = 47% of the vote

    The basic idea is that money allows you to recruit, convince, motivate, and gather votes even with extreme policy positions that are not naturally that attractive.

    Absent that money, you have to change your policy positions to those more naturally attractive to voters. If you don’t have the money to do the work of gathering more votes, you have to do it in policy change instead.

    50% is winner take all, so parties have a strong drive towards that percentage. The fact that Rs received 47% of the vote allows party hacks to argue that they are still basically on the right track — things just need to be tweaked a bit.

    If they’d had a shellacking in the 30-40% range, they’d be singing a far different tune.

    The different between narrow loss and shellacking is exactly that Dark Money.

    Or in other words: The immediate result of Dark Money in elections is a mainstreaming of radical and extreme positions.

    We didn’t dodge that bullet. It was fired this election and it hit us square between the eyes.

    QUOTED MATERIAL ENDS HERE

    /deep breath

    OH LOOK ANOTHER QUOTE STARTS HERE (link)

    Here are a few more thoughts about what makes this dynamic work:

    $800 million buys A LOT of advertising in the swing states, and like it or not, that advertising does attract votes. So the Republicans adopt positions that would get them only (say) 42% of the vote but this additional advertisement and outreach gains them (say) 5% more in votes and enthusiasm.

    This is more important than it looks because if the Rs were polling in the high 30s to low 40s they would realize they were in a very bad losing position. They would be scrambling to change anything and everything needed to get back into contention. But with the Dark Money artificially bringing their support up to the high 40s, it looks like they are in striking distance and all they need is a little more tweaking to pull it off.

    In short, the Dark Money reduces the party’s incentive to change what are otherwise losing policies and strategies.

    Of course Dark Money might also move losing positions or candidates, who would naturally gain only 45% of the vote, into a winning position with 50% of the vote. I think we all realize that possibility, however. What we may not realize is the radicalizing effect: To gain that extra 5% of the vote ‘naturally’ would likely require some compromise or re-tooling of the policy to garner additional support. The Dark Money allows that position to power straight on through in more radicalized form.

    More directly, large single donors kept a number of the Republican primary candidates in the race long after they would naturally have dropped out. The large donors do this because they want to prop up support for their pet policies, and they succeed. Many months that Romney would have liked to have spent driving to the center he was forced to spend driving even further to the right–and that can basically all be chalked up to Dark Money’s effect on the Republican Primary.

    We’ve previously mentioned the strong influence of Dark Money on local and statewide races. One result there has been a polarization of state legislatures and as a result, these gerrymandered Congressional Districts.

    Gerrymandered Congressional Districts are a lot of bad things, but one of those is safe districts for either Ds or Rs. This allows more extreme candidates — from both sides — to be elected in these districts than would be possible if the districts were less one-sided.

    To summarize: Dark Money allows a more radical agenda to win or, short of winning, remain viable when it would naturally die on the vine.

    Dark Money is the primary reason we still have a Republican Party pursuing a 1980s strategy.

    Absent the Dark Money Republicans would haven been forced to face the 21st Century reality and changing demographics much sooner. And that would be good for the Republican Party and good for America.

    AND THIS IS THE END OF ALL THE QUOTING

  68. 68
    Another Halocene Human says:

    Lawsuit for junk texts? Couldn’t happen to a more deserving wingnut.

    How’s your Obama 2012 VICTORY (with a side of Eric Holder) looking now, dumbazz purveyor of unpizzas?

  69. 69
    👽 Martin says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    From our point of view, Obamacare will cost about 11 to 14 cents per pizza, or 15 to 20 per order, from a corporate basis

    Papa Johns sells around 50 million pizzas per year in the US. At $.20 per, that’s only $10 million that Obamacare would cost him. He’s going to settle for far more than that over the text lawsuit.

    Of course nobody will tell Papa Johns customers that corporate malfeasance and stupidity will raise the price of their pizza more than providing health care for employees.

  70. 70
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Irving:

    This.

    It’s classic “throw money at the problem” thinking. Actual work? Too much effort. This makes these guys prime targets for grifting political conslutants who do what conslutants do: steal your watch to tell you what time it is.

  71. 71
    Hill Dweller says:

    Apparently, Gen. Allen and Gen. Petraeus sent letters to a court in D.C. testifying for Jill Scott’s twin sister, Natalie Khawam, in her custody hearing in late September. The court awarded custody of the child to his father, but only after saying this:

    “Ms. Khawam appears to lack any appreciation or respect for the importance of honesty and integrity in her interactions with her family, employers, and others with whom she comes in contact,” a judge wrote after a litany of hearings and psychological evaluations. “The court fully expects that Ms. Khawam’s pattern of misrepresentations about virtually everything, including the most important aspects of her life, will continue indefinitely.”

    The Tampa Bay Times has more on Khawam’s, who makes the Kelly’s look well adjusted, crazy behavior.

    Petraeus nor Allen should have been anywhere near these people, never mind using their credibility to vouch for a clearly unstable woman in a court of law. This just happened in September. The Kelly’s must have their hooks in them, because I can’t believe men in their position would voluntarily testify for someone in that much trouble.

  72. 72
    Hill Dweller says:

    Natalie Khawam(Jill Kelley’s twin sister) was more than $3 million in debt. She had four jobs in five years and sued a former employer for sex harassment. She had had three failed engagements, took her child and fled D.C. without permission from her husband, and moved in with her sister in Tampa.

    The court said Khawam suffers from “severe” psychological deficits, but Petraeus and Allen gave written testimony supporting her custody claim. WTF?

  73. 73
    👽 Martin says:

    @Hill Dweller: From TPM:

    One of the odd subplots in the Petraeus story is the decision of Gens. Petraeus and Gen. Allen to intervene in the intense custody dispute between Jill Kelley’s sister Natalie and her estranged husband Grayson P. Wolfe. Wolfe turns out to be a former Bush administration official who worked in Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad (Bremer’s outfit) opening Iraq up to private sector investment.

    Patraeus had to know Wolfe from when he was commander in Iraq. What do you want to bet he met the whole lot from that side?

    The one thing we rely on our supreme commanders to have is discipline and good judgement. Ours apparently have the discipline and good judgement of the average 17 year old. I’m gonna have to agree with Maddow here – this really should throw into doubt for the general public the judgement of the people who crafted our Afghanistan policy, and hopefully cause the public to demand a bit more debate and information for future military adventures.

  74. 74

    @👽 Martin:
    I worked for Papa Johns, long ago in my bizarrely wandering career path. The man would rather spend a million bucks decorating a store with copper and green marble than pay the employees working there a cent more than minimum wage. The company is a nightmare of cronyism, paperclip counting, and bureaucratic idiocy right out of Dilbert. The deepest irony is that he earned his riches through hard work and good business practices (and of course, luck) then decided he was a Galtian Ubermensch, stuck his head up his own ass, and hasn’t seen daylight since. I worked there at just the right time to know the people who were once happy to work for him, and horrified at how he and the company changed when he got rich.

    EDIT – Oh, and he’s from Kentucky. The only time I have personally heard the word ‘nigger’ used was in a conversation with a PJ manager about why a talented and competent black manager was never going to be promoted further.

  75. 75
    Hill Dweller says:

    @👽 Martin: Why support Natalie Khawam’s claim? They had to know she was crazy and in all sorts of trouble.

    The Kelley’s must have something on both Allen and Petraeus. I can’t imagine them getting anywhere near that custody case otherwise.

  76. 76
    Jewish Steel says:

    I am committed to sitting down with three sharp pencils, a big piece of butcher’s paper, a compass, some string and figuring out what’s going on with all these fornicating generals then formulating an opinion on it. Just as soon as I am able.

  77. 77
    👽 Martin says:

    @Jewish Steel: Don’t bother. There’s some sordid shit in here that we don’t know about yet. Give it a little more time and it’ll fall into place.

  78. 78
    Jewish Steel says:

    @👽 Martin:

    Don’t bother.

    The two sweetest words a contractor can ever hear. Roger that!

  79. 79
    👽 Martin says:

    @Jewish Steel: LOL. Alas, two words Mrs Martin doesn’t know.

  80. 80
    👽 Martin says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Also, IIRC, SuperPacs are not permitted to give money directly to campaigns, so they can’t do GOTV.

    They can, but in a very roundabout way. Superpacs are issue campaigns, so they can do GOTV on behalf of an issue. But they can’t coordinate with the campaign, so it’s a fairly ineffective kind of GOTV since they can’t use the campaign strike lists, etc. I’m sure someone will figure a way to do it somewhat effectively without coordinating, but my guess is that it’ll be like the ad spending – it’ll be a much less efficient use of money than if the campaign did it.

  81. 81
    Mary G says:

    If you put this stuff in a novel no one would publish it because it’s so bizarre. The sister sounds like a real piece of work. Jill Kelly and her husband are bankrupt and and welshed on all kinds of debt while throwing these lavish parties.

    In the pictures from the parties, poor Holly Petraeus looks like a librarian who’s wandered onto the set of a “Real Housewives of the Military” episode by mistake. I notice there’s no standing-by-her-man going on; good for her.

  82. 82
    JMochaCat says:

    ‘Similarly, McCaskill’s own campaign ran ads against all three Republican candidates. Notably, her advertisements targeting Akin called him “Missouri’s true conservative,” which may have helped the underfunded congressman. The move prompted political observers to note that Akin may be McCaskill’s preferred November rival.’
    http://www.publicintegrity.org.....their-wish

  83. 83
    MikeJ says:

    @Mary G:

    Jill Kelly and her husband are bankrupt and and welshed on all kinds of debt while throwing these lavish parties.

    But those parties were to support our troops! If you say anything bad about them it means you want the terrorists to win! Eleven!

  84. 84
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: What happened? Mentor died? Father died? New wife? New girlfriend?

    Weird.

  85. 85
    Or something like that.Suffern Ace says:

    @👽 Martin: I guess the question is whether dicking you’re employees around over health insurance laws can make him tne pizza equivalent of chic-fil-a?

  86. 86
    kay says:

    I think it’s going to be difficult to impose discipline in GOP campaigns not because of ideological factions within the Party but because they have built a huge campaign industrial complex with thousands of outside groups and everybody is getting paid. If they were to make it leaner and more focused, cut out consultants and issue groups and all the paid hangers on that are leeching off all that money that is sloshing around, a lot of “professional conservatives” are going to be very unhappy.
    This debate we’re hearing, between social cons and libertarians and business backers has a subtext, and it’s profit. They’re all getting paid, they all insist they can deliver certain groups of voters, and they aren’t going to go away quietly.
    I think Republicans probably have trouble running a lean, effective, focused Presidential campaign unless they address this, and cut some
    people OUT.

  87. 87
    JGabriel says:

    __
    __
    Suffern Ace:

    I guess the question is whether dicking you’re employees around over health insurance laws can make him tne pizza equivalent of chic-fil-a?

    People Republicans will be lining up around the block to buy pizza from minimum wage employees with no health insurance! That’ll show those Obama-loving sociaIist libtards!

    .

  88. 88
    MikeJ says:

    @kay:

    I think Republicans probably have trouble running a lean, effective, focused Presidential campaign unless they address this, and cut some people OUT

    I think it’s no coincidence that Democratic campaigns have been (badly) run by consultants up until a skinny community organizer came along and showed them not how to run but how to win.

    Note that even Carville and Begala were party outsiders until they won with Clinton. They came up with a new way to win and became as insidery as could be. Trippi was an insider who ran an outsider candidate and lost, and is now a concern troll.

    2016 will be an incredibly difficult campaign. One of the difficulties will be keeping the “old hands” who claim they know how campaigns are supposed to be run from strangling any energy our candidates manage to generate.

  89. 89
    Alex S. says:

    This election was remarkable in its small, but clear victory. There are no silver linings for the GOP. The democratic victory on issues came with the victory on demographics and the victory on infrastructure. There is simply no going back anymore.

  90. 90
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    Shorter post-election column from every Republican pundit from Ross Douthat to Joe Sureofit:

    The Republicans can easily win the White House and Senate next time if they just become a completely different party offering completely different things to completely different people.

  91. 91
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @Alex S.:

    There is simply no going back anymore.

    I wish people wouldn’t say this. Put up a milquetoast Dem candidate, neglect the hard work of campaigning and watch things go backwards. Also, House of Reps.

    ETA: Statehouses. I had a bunch of unopposed R candidates for state house in my district in a state Obama won handily.

  92. 92
  93. 93
    Amir Khalid says:

    Off topic: As of sunset today, it is the first of Muharram, 1434; New Year’s Day in the Muslim calendar. Not a religious holiday (after all, we’ve just had Eid al-Adha), but the turn of the year offers the usual opportunity to make new beginnings and resolutions and all that.

    Back on topic: This is an interesting discussion about the parasites infesting the republican party and its campaign efforts. Does anyone know if there might be any charismatic, transformative figure lurking somewhere in the party, some Barack Obama of the right, who might come along and drive the moneychangers from the temple? Because the party might be looking for such a figure even now, although of course its leadership would never admit it.

  94. 94
    Lurking Canadian says:

    @Amir Khalid: I hear Ann Romney has a rock star’s charisma.

  95. 95
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Amir Khalid: I hear GEN Petraeus is back in the job market.

  96. 96
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Lurking Canadian:
    What I heard was, she had a rock’s charisma.

  97. 97
    Gindy51 says:

    @Hill Dweller: Jill was some sort of party hostess, wasn’t she? Isn’t that a parlance for madam in some circles? Perhaps she was a madam for the upper crust of the military brass at some point and Old Dave knew about it (or used her services).

  98. 98
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Amir Khalid: That isn’t fair. I have seen rocks that sparkle.

  99. 99
    Alex S. says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    Well, I wonder how much of the Obama coalition is going to remain in 2016. Is it worth running another minority candidate, like Deval Patrick, or should a different kind of candidate try to appeal to different voters and states (like Brian Schweitzer making a play for Montana, North Dakota or Missouri)? I wonder if a candidate like Andrew Cuomo, if he ran against Jeb Bush, would lose black voter-enthusiasm and a share of latino voters and consequently, lose states like New Mexico or Virginia.

  100. 100
    Chris says:

    @kay:

    I think it’s going to be difficult to impose discipline in GOP campaigns not because of ideological factions within the Party but because they have built a huge campaign industrial complex with thousands of outside groups and everybody is getting paid.

    I recall El Cid explaining about a year ago that the political machine system had died partly because the big money had learned to run their own candidates directly while bypassing the party organizations that made up the old machines – which in turn also made these party organizations scramble to keep the big money happy.

    All the present chaos looks like that strategy’s chicken coming home to roost.

  101. 101
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @Alex S.:

    I wonder how much of the Obama coalition is going to remain in 2016.

    That’s the big question, isn’t it. I think a lot of people don’t like Andrew Cuomo. Schweitzer may not have a big enough state behind him. There’s almost an embarrassment of riches to choose from (that guy from Maryland, for instance). I hope they don’t let things drop over the next 4 years.

  102. 102
    aimai says:

    @Hill Dweller:
    I actually expect that about a million people–former staff members and others–ask them for recommendations and letters of support. They probably dole them out like candy. While posing, for staff and media and others as untouchable and prudent and above the fray if you read Spackerman’s account of his seduction by the General (P) you get the impression of a guy who, like Clinton, would do anything for anyone in order to get that little jolt of admiration and approval.

    aimai

  103. 103
    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says:

    With the division between red states and blue states becoming permanent, and the structural roadblock that means that senators representing 10% of the population can prevent any progress from being made, I think we’ve reached a point with this election where people have just started saying: “Fuck it, we’ll do this on our own”.

    With the votes here in Washington, among other states, on gay marriage and marijuana, to name two issues, I think the blue states are serving notice that they’re going to carve out a civilized existence for themselves regardless of what the wingnuts manage to do on the federal level. It’s not as showy as a secession petition, but not as pathetically petulant, either. “You Yahoos want to live in the CSA? Fine, but we’re going to arrange our lives the way we want, too.”

    Eventually there will almost literally be two countries, and we can see how people’s feet vote.

    (Well, it did say “Open Thread”.)

  104. 104
    MikeJ says:

    @aimai: All politicians know that constituent services is what wins elections. I don’t see how generals are any different from city councilmen.

  105. 105
    presquevu says:

    For shrinkage of dark money, dip it in the cold water of taxation. 90% tax rate on corp speech intended to influence elections, ought to do it, if the proceeds go to fund causes unpopular with the swells, e.g., campaign finance, or really anything that benefits the 99%.

  106. 106
    jibeaux says:

    @Mary G: I just flat love this, every word.

  107. 107
    WereBear says:

    @The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge: With the votes here in Washington, among other states, on gay marriage and marijuana, to name two issues, I think the blue states are serving notice that they’re going to carve out a civilized existence for themselves regardless of what the wingnuts manage to do on the federal level.

    An intriguing point, especially since states do that anyway… I fled Florida for New York because I was tired of being treated as less-than-human, and felt my efforts would count more in the new place.

    I would have to say I was right.

  108. 108
    jibeaux says:

    @kay: It would be fun if their reliance on crony capitalism rather than real free market capitalism was their downfall.

  109. 109
    Elizabelle says:

    You won’t have George Allen of Virginia to kick around anymore. Take that, macaca.

    Governor “Transvaginal Bob” McDonnell haz a sad.

  110. 110
    WereBear says:

    @jibeaux: Oh, they only SAY they love the free market. In the meantime, Wal-Mart attempts to crush all competition, the oil companies conspire to set prices, and giant companies buy up successful smaller ones only to destroy them.

    They want a rigged game.

  111. 111
    Elizabelle says:

    @Mary G:

    You are a treasure.

    Good work!!

  112. 112
    El Cid says:

    @Chris: OMG — someone recalled something I said?

  113. 113
    gelfling545 says:

    @NotMax: Are they talking to Christie again after his “treason”?

  114. 114

    @Amir Khalid:
    I’m sure this thread is long dead, but…

    Yes. Her name was Sarah Palin. I’m not entirely kidding. The Teabag base does not define ‘charismatic’ like we do.

  115. 115

    @The Moar You Know:

    Oh yeah, and Cali Dems now have supermajority. History will record that the Chicago School Economics experimentation ended here first.

    The election was only a week ago, and many dominoes remain to fall… but I’m almost ready to say that the Reagan Era really did end last week.

  116. 116
    J R in WV says:

    I agree that we don’t yet know all about the Generals and their girls.

    I hope the juicy bits don’t turn out to be classified because of their embarrassment factor to legislative leaders!

    Leaving the whole mess as a confused story about two (or three, it starts to look like) women with no common sense isn’t good in terms of structural change to lessen the chances of this sort of thing happening again.

    But I’m also sure that this isn’t the first time a top general got in trouble over his zipper control – just that it was more successfully swept under the rug in the past.

    The temptation to take advantage of total power must be difficult to resist, if not impossible for some men.

  117. 117
    McJulie says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Does anyone know if there might be any charismatic, transformative figure lurking somewhere in the party, some Barack Obama of the right

    For such a person to have a high enough profile by 2016, I think we’d have to know about them already, re: Obama’s speech at the 2004 Democratic convention.

    I know I wasn’t the only person who heard it and thought, Damn! Why isn’t that guy running for president?

    If the right had somebody like that this time around, I missed it.

  118. 118
  119. 119
    Bruce S says:

    @McJulie:

    “charismatic, transformative figure…” “If the right had somebody like that this time around, I missed it.”

    I thought that guy was Paul Ryan!

  120. 120
    Bruce S says:

    While we’re talking about dicks, there’s these two guys:

    http://www.theroot.com/views/d.....-far-again

    I’m sort of surprised, given her penchant for smoking out “Firebaggers” that ABL hasn’t gone off on these two self-promoting creeps. I’ve been called a “Firebagger” by certain flaming idiots here because I actually have policy issues that I think we should hold the administration to, rather than don cheerleaders outfits – as Obama actually suggested we should when he was first running in ’07 and I worked my ass off and spent what was for me a small fortune to help get him first nominated and then elected. I feel “authorized” by the President’s own words as a candidate to challenge constructively what comes out of the inevitably cloistered, compromised Oval Office – but I absolutely detest this kind of personalization and demonization – with racist baggage overtly attached – whether it comes from West, Nader or Rush Limbaugh. Obama is the best President in my lifetime and I’m grateful that even as he has to govern politically and pragmatically his door, his heart and his mind are open to his critics on issues (as the LGBT and Dream activists and even Keystone protestors have proven.)

    Cornel West and his Smiley buddy are the worst sort of ego-driven opportunists, acting and speaking more out of spite and bitterness than a strategic concern that certain issues get addressed more robustly and that constituencies get built that give the President more room to address concerns we know he actually cares about and likely wants to act on if the political space opens up.

  121. 121
    Mnemosyne says:

    From Dave Weigel at Slate:

    Meet the Republican Losers Who Make It Really Hard to Spin a “No Mandate” Narrative

    Contrary to what some Chicken Littles were trying to claim, there may actually have been a change on Election Day. A lot of Republicans who expected to have safe seats were thrown out or rejected by the electorate, including two former governors of their states (Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin and Linda Lingle of Hawaii).

  122. 122
    Nerf says:

    No one ever mentions who made out with a lot of that $300 million- TV Station owners. Many of whom are conservative! So perhaps Karl did a great job of making them a mint!

  123. 123
    Chris says:

    @El Cid:

    I had a moment of weakness.

    More seriously, it was actually quite instructive, so, thanks.

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