I know for a fact that money plays an insignificant role in electoral politics but I want to make two points in this blog.
The first point is to reiterate that it is very rare when money can play a significant role in influencing the outcome of an election. Anyone in politics has watched hundreds of elections in which one side had a disproportionate funding advantage and the other side won. There is simply no way to ignore that reality. That reality suggests that money is incidental to election outcomes.
It further suggests that the only function of money is when nothing else of importance is at play. That is my general opinion. Money indicates that one side or the other has money and therefore more ads. When that is a positive sign to the voters, then money has some influence. But that is a truism. Money has influence when the public wants money to have influence.
One of the most preposterous models of monetary influence that I hear in these days is the role that giant databases play in getting out the vote. The Democrats claimed effectiveness in the 2008 election and the Republicans claim to have caught up with the Democrats in the 2014 election in their use of giant databases.
I cannot think of anything more preposterous. Well maybe I can. But this is preposterous in itself. When I was running campaigns and doing political research more than 50 years ago we had voter registration lists. We knew exactly who had voted at four o’clock in the afternoon and we knew their political party, if they had one. In a few critical instances we actually took the time to find out if they had voted in previous similar elections; similar meaning presidential or off year.
Exactly how much more information can anyone have because of data on Facebook other than party affiliation and previous voting? Virtually nothing of any significance. The data I had in 1964 comprise about 90% of all the data that is relevant.
On the other hand, during the most recent campaign in which the Republicans have begun using databases, I was swamped with 2 to 4 emails a day for two months before the election. It was all irrelevant to me and I put it in the junk mailbox.
So much for the sophisticated social media campaign. Since I can't take it seriously and I pay more attention than most, I can't believe anyone else takes it seriously either.