June 12, 2014

MEGAN MCARDLE: Cantor’s Loss Wasn’t About the Money.

This is possibly the most resounding argument ever made against the notion that wealthy people can simply buy themselves representation in Congress. David Brat was outspent 40 to 1 and still managed a devastating primary upset.

This is not quite as surprising as you might think; the literature on campaign spending tends to show that there’s probably some effect, but it’s not nearly as clear or as large as most people think. And it seems entirely possible that in primaries — where the electorate is whittled down to a much smaller group of highly motivated voters — money might have even less influence than it does on the general election.

Still, if you’re someone who worries a lot about the Citizens United decision making it impossible for the little guy to get a voice in politics, this should put you a little more at ease.

I doubt those folks will be cheering much though. But, then, all the talk about “money in politics” is really a cover for trying to keep Republican money out of politics.