One line of pushback I’ve been getting in pointing out that poorly-funded candidates are hurting Democratic chances of unseating Tom Corbett by polluting the field is that this is somehow equivalent to saying rich people should rule our politics.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. As you’ll recall, Barack Obama’s campaign attracted an enormous number of small donors, even as big money bundlers accounted for most of his historic haul. Obviously that’s pretty rare in down ballot races, but you do often see grassroots candidates people are truly excited about getting a lot of small donations alongside the big money. There’s some confusion about how this works – the money follows the excitement, and mostly it follows who people think can win.
So far lots of online progressives say they like the idea of John Hanger, but by revealed preference, they don’t think he’ll win the primary because they’re not opening their wallets and wasting their money on his doomed campaign. The fundraising reports aren’t out yet, but it’s clear Hanger’s trying to preempt his terrible report by pretending a weak hand is actually a strong one. It’s cool you guys, he doesn’t want money! Obviously that’s absurd, and he would love to have a whole bunch of small donors to point to even if the topline numbers are no good. He doesn’t have that, or else he’d be bragging about it.
People also need to get it out of their heads that special interests donate to “buy” politicians. Special interests donate to who they think they’re most likely to be working with. Naturally the Interested Public would love to be able to “install” certain candidates, but rarely is that high degree of coordination actually possible. What they’re actually trying to do is bet on who the winning candidates are, and give the winning candidates a lot of money, so when they go and ask for favors later, they can say “we gave you this much money before, we’re prepared to give you this much money next time you run, hint hint help us out” That’s a crucial difference from the cartoonish image a lot of folks have about how this works.
Industries that Bill DeBlasio said he was going to tax gave tons of money to Bill DeBlasio because they knew he was going to win. That’s how it works.