McCain-Feingold Socks Democrats

The Washington Post reports on an analysis of political donations by the Center for Responsive Politics:
“The evidence is growing that Democrats shot themselves in the foot by forcing passage of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law restricting what had been unlimited ‘soft money’ donations to political parties.
“A report released yesterday by the Center for Responsive Politics…found that, contrary to common perceptions, Republicans have a big advantage over Democrats in donations from small donors, while Democrats are king among only the biggest.
“The study, analyzing donations during the 2002 campaign cycle, found that those little guys giving less than $200 to federal candidates, parties or leadership political action committees contributed 64 percent of their money to Republicans. By contrast, those fat cats giving $1 million or more contributed a lopsided 92 percent to Democrats.”
This was known prior to the passage of McCain-Feingold, of course, and it was widely predicted (by us and many others) that the act would be a boon to Republicans.
By the way, the parties’ positions on McCain-Feingold supply an elegant refutation of those who argue that political contributions buy the support of politicians. McCain-Feingold was a sort of meta-test of this hypothesis, in which not just a single contribution but the future of all contributions was at stake. Members of both parties voted their convictions, not their pocketbooks, as Democrats overwhelmingly supported the act and Republicans mostly opposed it, even though everyone knew that for the foreseeable future the new rules would help the Republicans.


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