How Much Is Too Much ??
Over the last few days we have been treated to stories about how much money the two presidential campaigns have raised along with how much the RNC and DNC can add to the pot.
However as I read about each side bringing in 100 million dollars or more in a month I am prompted to ask a question that has been running through my mind for some time. How much money is too much ? At what point do you feel like you have enough to spend on an election campaign ? When do you start telling your supporters that maybe their money might be better spent helping charities in their own towns ?
I ask this question not only for the rhetorical reasons cited above but also for some very practical ones. The simple fact of the matter is that there is only so much money that a campaign can spend before they run out of places and ways to spend it. I know that both sides (especially the Obama camp) have talked about a ’50 state campaign’ but we hear those words every four years and it never pans out.
The reality is that there are only certain states that are even theoretically in play. I don’t care if President Obamaspends a hundred million dollars a month in Utah, he’s not going to win the state.
By the same token, Governor Romney can spend the next 4 weeks exclusively campaigning in Rhode Island but he is not going to take the Ocean State.
I’m not going to say I am enough of a political expert to name all of the states that are out of reach for one side or the other but I think it would be reasonable to say that about a dozen states on each side are pretty much locked in place. So right off the top you have maybe half of the ’50 state strategy’ that is pointless in terms of major spending and effort. Either it is a state you are sure of winning or one you have no chance in.
This brings us down to maybe 25-30 states that are or could be in play, but even within those states there are only so many people who are open to persuasion. If you are a regular reader of Daily Kos or a huge Rachel Maddow fan it is fairly unlikely that Romney is going to get your vote. It doesn’t matter if he spends millions of dollars targeting ads directly at you, he’s not going to succeed.
By the same token, if you are a big reader of Red State and think Bill O’Reilly is a great guy then it is not very probable that Obama is going to be able to convince you to support him. He could come over and personally wash and wax your car but you’re not gonna back him in November.
So we’ve now limited our efforts to some of the voters in some of the states and the question arises of how much money its really going to take to reach them. There are only so many TV or radio ads available for purchase between now and election day. You can only open so many offices, hire so many staffers, put up so many posters before even your own supporters get tired of it.
Businesses talk about the law of diminishing returns which discusses the fact that after a certain point efforts to convince customers to use your services tend to either fall on deaf ears or actually are counter productive. I think the same can be true of Presidential campaigns.
Even if it is not entirely true I think the campaigns could do a service to the public by cutting back on the fundraising. Both sides have funds approaching a billion dollars each and that would seem to be enough money to support their efforts through election day..
I would like to see the campaigns tell their supporters to take the money they intended to donate to them and give it to charity. This would allow both President Obama and Governor Romney to show that they truly care about those in need.
Any guesses as to whether either one will take me up on the idea ?
(And just to save time, I think most of the Supreme Court rulings on campaign finance law were wrong.)