Does Money Matter?

Kevin Drum has an interesting hypothesis:

I have a prediction: we are going to learn this year
(or, actually, next year) that there are diminishing returns to money
in presidential primaries. Not only do I have my doubts that the vast
sums of money being raised by the current frontrunners will fund a more
effective campaign than half the amount would, but I wouldn't be
surprised if it leads to less effective campaigns.  Sometimes too much money makes you lazy.

1.  I tend to agree
2.  I wonder if this conclusion would cause Drum to reconsider his support for campaign finance limitations like McCain-Feingold
3.  It is incredible how facile the media's coverage of this election has become.  Unable or unwilling to tease out real differences between the candidates, the media has resorted to a sports metaphor, treating the race as a money-raising horse race.


  1. Craig:

    Yeah, I think most of the money being spent now is worthless. Nobody cares about the campaign, but they're spending millions per week on consultants and hacks. Drum will be right if Gore or Thompson enter late and win a nomination.

  2. Mesa EconoGuy:

    Actually, given Drum’s prediction, John McCain should do better than those raising twice as much money, and confirm the McCain-Feingold mistake.

    Obviously, this won’t happen. What matters is how many members of the press once worked for you, or who are currently your friends. It does beg the question, however, is McCain underreporting?

    Nothing Kevin Drum says is interesting. Or insightful.

  3. Brad Warbiany:


    McCain isn't going to raise a lot because conservatives hate him. A lot of this, actually, is due to his name being associated with McCain-Feingold. The fact that conservatives hate him will also be the reason his candidacy goes nowhere, no matter how much the media fawns over him.

  4. Duane Gran:

    "the media has resorted to a sports metaphor, treating the race as a money-raising horse race."

    This should be no surprise, given that media outlets are the primary beneficiaries of the money raised in a political campaign.

  5. BobH:

    I will introduce another sports metaphor: The media frenzy over money-raising reminds me of the way the more-rabid college sports fans obsess over the recruiting of high school athletes.

    The parallel is apt, I think, because the motivation is much the same -- there's nothing else to talk about during the off-season; and also because, while it matters, it probably doesn't matter as much as the obsessed want to think.

    I would prefer that my school get all the five-star recruits, but getting the best players does not assure success (Oklahoma did much better than Boise in recruiting, but didn't win the Fiesta Bowl). I would also prefer that my favored candidate be well-funded, but President Gramm can remind us that that guarantees nothing.

  6. Xmas:

    What'll be fun is the pulled forward, super-short primary season. It's going to be brutal. Our eyes will bleed from candidate ads.

    * Drink every time you see a waving flag.

    * Drink twice for every black-and-white picture of the opposing candidate with negative buzzwords fading in while a harsh chord plays in the background.

    * Drink the whole drink every time an ad mentions an article from a newspaper that's biased towards the candidate (eg, NY Times for Dems, Washington Times for Repubs)