Tag Archives: David Axelrod

The impact of money in elections

An interesting look in the New York Times at how the money was spent in the last Presidential election

Start with the last presidential election. Most of the nearly half billion dollars — $374 million out of a total of $486 million — doled out by “super PACs” and other independent expenditure committees during the general election was by Republican groups, more than triple the $112 million spent independently in support of President Obama.

Clearly, this cash advantage did not tip the scales. Stuart Stevens, chief strategist of Mitt Romney’s campaign, argues that the huge expenditures by Republican groups were essentially wasted.

“What we discovered on our side, to our surprise and disappointment, was that there were some superb pro-Romney ads, but there was little impact on voters, not what we would have expected them to have,” Stevens told a postelection colloquium on Feb. 5 at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics.

Stevens argued that the “most important answer” in explaining the ineffectiveness of the super PAC ads “was that they were not coordinated with the campaign. They produced ads that were good as they stood alone, but they weren’t directing one message.”

Obama, according to Stevens, did not have this problem because he was less dependent on super PAC support and his campaign directly controlled a much higher percentage of the money spent on his behalf. Obama’s control of cash empowered his campaign to deliver messages and themes that his strategists wanted to stress with little competition from independent groups pushing for him.

Stevens cited Federal Election Commission reports to show that Obama was able to raise more “effective” dollars than Romney, even though the overall balance favored Romney by $140 million, $1.25 billion to $1.11 billion.