November 16, 2016
BRADLEY SMITH: Trump’s campaign kills the ‘money buys elections’ cliche.
President-elect Trump broke a lot of barriers this election. He overcame controversy, a so-called “unprofessional” campaign operation and the opposition of both major party establishments.
His election should also allow political observers to retire an old cliche: The idea that “money buys elections.” How can anyone say otherwise at this point?
Of course, the battlefield was already littered with candidates from both parties that outspent their opponents, only to lose. Meg Whitman, John Corzine, Linda McMahon and a host of other famous and unfamous names outspent their opponents on the way to defeat in previous years. But Trump may put all of those elections to shame when it comes to disparity of resources.
Consider that Hillary Clinton’s campaign outspent Trump by more than two-to-one. Pro-Clinton ads outnumbered pro-Trump ads by three-to-one. Independent groups (the “super PACs”) supporting Clinton outspent independent groups supporting Trump by three-to-one. The average contribution to Trump was smaller than the average contribution to Clinton. And on and on it goes.
We’re told by campaign finance “reformers” that we must restrict spending in politics so that “people” can have their voices heard. But voters in 2016 ultimately chose the candidate without even a “real” super PAC to speak of.
And I think that goes a long way toward explaining why so many “political professionals” hated him.