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Hey, Did You Hear That Some of Mitt Romney’s Donors are Relatively Affluent?
Posted by Enrique on 07.11.2012

In the year 2012, it seems silly that conservatives still complain about liberal bias in the MSM. It's been a long time since there were only three TV network news divisions that all regurgitated the New York Times editorial line, and even then they weren't able to prevent Republicans from being elected to national office. Now that Fox News, AM radio, and the internet have been providing conservative-leaning journalism and commentary for well over a decade, it seems silly that rightwingers still complain about liberal bias.

Except the bias does still exist and sometimes it's nearly comical. Earlier this week, Mitt Romney held a fundraiser in the Hamptons, and several reports about the event made sure to emphasize that a number of wealthy donors are supporting the presumptive Republican nominee. President Barack Obama is also supported by plenty of well-heeled donors, but it's funny how stories about his fundraisers don't usually go out of their way to draw attention to that fact (not ha-ha funny).

The story so far…

Well, wouldn't you?

Conventional wisdom is that money can't buy you love, but it can buy elections. Whenever a candidate loses, he/she will often blame their defeat on being outspent by their opponent (much less often will they blame themselves). Following Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's recent victory in that big hairy recall election, it has become an article of faith among lefties that his massive fundraising advantage was the main reason for his success. The fact that public employee unions behaved like loathsome, entitled crybabies didn't have anything to do with it – it was all that dirty Koch money.

Of course, if money bought elections, Linda McMahon would be a U.S. Senator and Meg Whitman would be Governor of California. But that won't stop a lot of people from claiming/believing that fundraising prowess is the deciding factor in many elections, especially ones in which the candidate they voted for lost.

Mind you, not all fundraising prowess is equal in the MSM. When Republicans are wildly successful at fundraising, it is a sign that democracy is being subverted by a few wealthy elites. When Democrats are successful at fundraising, it's because that's what they have to do to beat those nasty Republicans. For example, you may have heard that Mitt Romney is a relatively wealthy fellow. But did you know that his campaign is being supported by other wealthy people? In case you didn't know, here's an AP story bringing that fact to your attention:

Obama is fighting on two fronts to keep the presidency: On one hand, he faces Romney's own war chest that pays for campaign operations. On the other, he has to push back against the hundreds of millions of dollars flowing to GOP-aligned "super" political action committees, or PACs, which have aired continual attack ads aimed at Obama and his record.

Indeed, wealthy donors have been instrumental in helping Romney beat Obama. When he broke fundraising records last month, Romney's campaign praised small-dollar donors it said made it possible. But it was actually a small and often wealthy number of donors responsible, who gave an average of about $2,400 each, according to an Associated Press analysis. […]

Large contributors — up to the legal limit of $2,500 for the campaign during the primary and another $2,500 during the general election — are vital in an election whose cost might surpass $1 billion.

In May, for example, a month after Romney began raising money with the Republican Party, he raised $76.8 million — more than Obama and Democrats by about $16 million. During that month, only one in six donors accounted for $64.8 million — or 84 percent — of that cash.
How do you suppose we're supposed to feel about Romney's success in out-fundraising Obama? Are we supposed to think it's fair for wealthy people to freely express their political preferences by donating to the candidate of their choice? Or are we supposed to feel how President Obama's hack advisor David Plouffe feels – that Romney's donors are trying to buy the election? We're probably supposed to feel kinda sorta bad about that, no?

It is indeed newsworthy that Romney has beaten Obama in fundraising two months in a row, especially since Obama has the advantage of incumbency. But there's nothing obviously insidious about it, or the fact that Romney has been effective in raising money from the rich. In fact, given how routinely Obama demonizes the rich, it's not even surprising.

Even so, plenty of MSM journalists seem to think there's something sinister about rich people giving Romney money, because they go out of their way to emphasize how Romney's donors aren't regular schlubs like you and me. Writing in the Washington Post, Michael Moynihan points out some interesting details in MSM coverage of Romney's recent Hamptons fundraiser:

Let's first establish the relevant facts. Just how did all of these 1 percenters transport themselves from their expensive city apartments to the "pine tree-lined" estate where the fundraisers was held? The Associated Press discovered that donors arrived driving "Mercedes, Bentleys — and, in one case, a candy red 2013 Ferrari Spider." The Los Angeles Times, also noting that rich people tend to own expensive cars, reported on the "line of Range Rovers, BMWs, Porsche roadsters and one gleaming cherry red Ferrari" waiting to get into the fundraiser. The New York Times spotted—you guessed it!—"a line of gleaming Bentleys, Porsches and Mercedes-Benzes" queuing outside the venue. This reminded me of a San Francisco Chronicle headline from last year, during the height of the media's mania for all things Occupy Wall Street-related: "Mercedes hits 2 Occupy Oakland protesters." Imagine, if you will, a slight twist on that headline: "Ford Focus hits 2 Occupy Oakland protesters." Yeah, didn't think so.

But just in case you were still unclear on the income level of those who attend fundraisers for Republican presidential candidates, TPM stresses that they are "rich," "super-rich," "mega-rich," "well-heeled," and "moneyed," as distinct from the suburban moms and union stiffs present at Obama recent Manhattan fundraisers.
Surely there's some kind of "social justice" message in there about how unfair it is that rich Republican interests are poised to make man-of-the-people Obama a one-termer. But it's not as if there aren't a lot of rich people supporting Obama's reelection. After all, this is the man who set a presidential campaign fundraising record in the 2008 campaign.

Just last month, actress Sarah Jessica Parker hosted a fundraiser for Obama where 50 donors paid nearly $40,000 each to attend. That story is filled with details about all the celebrities who attended, but does not mention what kind of cars attendees drove. The New York Times story on Parker's fundraiser is similarly short on details about how those donors aren't very much like you and me.

A story in the Baltimore Sun about a fundraiser Obama held for wealthy donors also doesn't talk about what cars were driven, but makes sure to note the hosts "have given their time community institutions, including serving on boards on Johns Hopkins Medicine and The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore."

Earlier this year, when Spike Lee hosted a $38,000-per-plate fundraiser for Obama, the Huffington Post writer gave us a rundown of Lee's Twitter commentary about the night – and did not attempt to portray Obama as out of touch for accepting money from rich celebrities.

Whatever. Personally, it doesn't bother me if a candidate's campaign cash comes from the unwashed masses or the 1%. The only reason it would matter is if there was some actual evidence that money buys elections. As it happens, a study conducted by Freakonomics economist Steven Levitt found that money does have an impact, but it's negligible.

It's more accurate to say that people give more money to a candidate they think can win – not that the money itself leads to victory. In other words, it may look like Scott Walker won the recall election because of his fundraising advantage, but actually the reason he had a fundraising advantage was because he was in a strong position to win anyway. If he hadn't been leading in polls for months before the election, he wouldn't have been able to raise so much money.

So just because Romney is getting loads of money from rich donors, Obama still has a good chance of winning reelection. And if he does, hopefully we'll have heard the last of this "money buys elections" nonsense. If not, maybe we'll at least hear more about what kind of luxury cars rich Democrat benefactors drive.


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