Where the Money Is

In the 2012 election, Minnesota was a microcosm of the nation: the Democrats re-took both houses of the state’s legislature, and ballot propositions on gay marriage and voter ID went down to defeat. Today the Star Tribune highlighted the fact that record amounts of money were spent on the election: “Huge sums tossed at ballot questions in 2012.” The subheading reads, “Spending by groups for and against constitutional questions totaled nearly $23 million.” But if you keep reading, you get to the real story:

The two groups opposing the marriage and the voter ID amendments spent about $15.6 million. The two main groups supporting the amendments spent just over $7 million.

Minnesotans, contrary to some early expectations, voted down both amendments in November.

That’s generally what happens when you get out-spent by better than two to one. The inability of the pro-ballot integrity forces to raise significant cash is highlighted by this remarkable statistic, featuring my friend Joan Cummins:

The campaign to support the amendment, called ProtectMyVote.com, spent about $1.45 million, according to campaign manager Dan McGrath. The majority of its money — $1.3 million — came from Joan Cummins, who is listed on campaign finance reports as a “self-employed homemaker.” She is married to millionaire Bob Cummins, who gives to conservative causes.

The Democrats’ cash advantage was even worse when it came to legislative races:

The nearly $23 million spent on the constitutional questions is only part of the huge amounts of cash tossed at Minnesotans to influence their votes last year. The political parties added $24 million and outside groups spent at least $8 million more, creating what is likely the most expensive state-level contests Minnesota has seen.

The raising and spending was as lopsided as the results, which saw Minnesota voters not only vote against the two amendments but also swap a Republican-controlled Legislature for a DFL-controlled one. …

According to new records, the Republican Party and the two party organizations that sought to keep the state Legislature in GOP hands spent almost $7 million on the 2012 Minnesota campaigns. …

The DFL and its two legislative committees spent almost $18 million, although the numbers include money the state party fed to the two legislative caucuses and cash the House and Senate caucuses paid to the party.

So on the legislative races, the DFL outspent the GOP more than 2 1/2 to 1.

The reality is that in today’s world, there is far more money on the left than on the right. Why that is so, and what, if anything, we can do about it are topics for ongoing discussion. But for the foreseeable future, the brute fact will be that the left is where the money is.


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