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Old 10-15-2010, 06:14 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 3,921
Default Another take on campaign financing

Here's an interesting discussion about the changes in the funding of campaigns and how it relates to the 2010 election, from frequent blogginghead Henry Farrell:

It's worth reading the whole thing so that the following quotes aren't out of context.

Now the Republican Party is changing, because it is being hit with two simultaneous shocks. The first is Citizens United, which makes it much easier for business to pour money into the electoral process without any real accountability. The second is the advent of new forms of small-donor fundraising, which are both more efficient than the mailing-list model that Richard Viguerie pioneered in a previous generation, and less easy for party grandees to control.* The interesting question for me is which of these is likely to prevail over the other. Citizens United suggests the continued – and perhaps increased – dominance of big money in electoral politics. The proliferation of Tea Party candidates, and of small-donor fundraising mechanisms that may be escaping the control of either the Republican party or business suggests the dominance of conservative activists.

You can see arguments for both cases.... But it’s also highly plausible that the internal tensions of the Republican coalition will increase. The conservative activists within the Tea Party look isolationist on foreign policy (scaring neo-conservatives like Bill Kristol). They are probably not especially keen on free trade either (which leads to worries for Republican-friendly business). And a less centralized Republican party will be less easily able to manage these tensions than a more decentralized one, in which dissenters have independent financial and organizational resources to draw upon. It could be that all of this is resolved (if e.g. corporate money simply swamps grassroot donations and energy over the longer term, and at the primary level as well as in elections. It could be, as some argue, that this is an illusion and that the Tea Party are mere puppets of big business (I don’t think this is true myself – even if Koch, Armey etc helped get things started, they don’t look to me as though they are in control – but I could be wrong). But I’m cautiously betting myself on substantially increased tensions within the party, and perhaps even a fracturing of the underlying coalition over the next few years.
Yes, I know, ChiWS thinks that liberals always think the Republican coalition is going to fracture, and I'm skeptical myself.

*It's interesting, because a lot of people also speculated that the increasing ease of small money donations (exploited by Obama) would help the Dems and make Citizens United less significant. Makes sense the traditional conservative donors might lag a bit behind but come on strong, especially given their positive experience with mailing lists and such and the presence of lots of religious groups on the net.
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