The McCain-Feingold chickens are coming

The McCain-Feingold chickens are coming home to roost. After decades of dependence on “soft money” contributions from unions and fat cats, the Democrats have been unsuccessful, so far, in significantly expanding their small donor base. The Washington Post reports on the uphill battle faced by the candidates seeking to challenge President Bush:
“[T]he sustained two-year effort by the party’s national, senatorial and congressional campaign committees to strengthen ‘hard money’ fundraising did not succeed in lessening their dependence on ‘soft money,’ which no longer is legal. Instead, the Democratic committees in the 2002 elections were even more dependent on soft money–which national parties could raise in unlimited amounts until two months ago–than in previous elections.”
The Democrats have responded to their lack of small donor support at the Senate level by recruiting rich candidates who can self-finance their campaigns. But not even John Kerry, who married the Heinz ketchup fortune, is rich enough to finance a Presidential run. The practical consequences of McCain-Feingold will be almost entirely unintended, as its ban on issue advertising will certainly be held unconstitutional, and the prohibition of soft money (together with the increase in the individual contribution limit from $1,000 to $2,000) will be a great boon to Republicans. It won’t be long before agitation to amend the statute to benefit Democrats will begin. Here’s a prediction: John McCain will be among the agitators.


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