Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney fanned the flames of his fundraising hot streak once again in July with a third straight month of out-raising the Obama re-election campaign, $101 million to about $75 million. Yet the Obama camp, giving no indication of letting this dampen their spirits or, more importantly, tighten their purse-strings, have continued to embark on one of the highest-spending campaigns in recent history.
The grand total of aggregated expenditure on polling, advertising, software development and the like by the Democrats and their super PAC allies tallies a cool $404.9 million, which is a whopping $89.1 million more than their Republican counterparts as of June 30th. From whom and where is all this money coming? The answer to that question can be found here, here, here, and here. What, you haven’t reached infographical overload yet? Here’s another for you. What you can begin to see is a trend indicating a disparity in the types of donors that the two candidates attract. Rather, the types of pockets they attract. Obama, evidenced by the 98% of his July donations that were $250 or less, draws from those with modest pockets. Though the same category of donations comprised 94% of Romney’s July haul, this number belies the aggregated total percentage of Romney's financiers who have given $250 or less. That number, as of the end of June, was about 15%, to Obama's 31%.
A more telling statistic than one describing only the month of July is that, of the $186 million cash Romney has on hand, only 14% came from donors of $250 or less. Equally illuminating is the fact that, though out-raised by about $26 million in July, Obama had more than 100,000 more donors than Romney.
Do I think lower income people, so-called ‘average Americans,’ tend to support Obama over Romney? Well, in general, yes, but not by enough of a margin to be worthy of discussion. What I do know for certain is that big money has unquestionably thrown itself behind Mitt Romney. And big money means corruption.
Put yourself in Mitt’s shoes. Really get into it. Do you feel casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson’s ($37.5 million) warm breath on your neck, and pioneer of the leveraged buyout Harold Simmons’ ($17.2 million) hand on your shoulder? Does it make you uncomfortable that the Koch brothers each have a firm grasp on both of your arms?
In all seriousness, I cannot find any way to convince myself that large donors have no influence on the minds of the candidates they prop up. I find it even more difficult to assign the origin of the motivations of large donors, who are all accomplished businessmen, to anything other than personal financial incentives.
If, say, campaign strategists calculate that in the final months Mitt needs X amount to get the job done, and Adelson kindly agrees to help the former governor reach the necessary sum, do you really think that Mitt has the luxury of deliberating upon and deciding the stipulations attendant to the large donation? No, he graciously takes the money and then thinks long and hard about his policies, including the ones that will sustain the cash cow that is Adelson. And, more importantly, the ones that might scare him off, and thus the ones that might have to be re-evaluated.
In no way do I think these types of political perversions are problems relegated exclusively to Romney. Obama, after all, has multiple donors of $1 million or more. But the primate on Romney’s back is a gorilla to Obama’s chimp.
I certainly don’t mean to demonize wealthy Americans. By and large, they represent the pinnacle of the American dream, and many of them are worthy of commendation for the hard work they have put in to advancing themselves, and, in so doing, the country. They deserve equal say.
But that’s just it. Equal say. Nothing more. Anyone who thinks the typical American, who can only sacrifice a measly $250 to support a candidate, has the same power during election season as the Sheldon Adelsons of the world has their collar buttoned a little too tightly.
This week, there is about $50 million is slated to be spent on campaign advertising alone. I didn’t buy that advertising, and, I’m guessing, neither did you.