Can Biden Buy the Election?

The Democrats don’t have a candidate, but what they do have is wheelbarrows full of cash. The New York Times checks out the money race and concludes that their candidate is doing very well indeed:

President Biden may be down in the polls, but he’s way up on Donald Trump when it comes to campaign funds.

Each quarter since the president announced he was running again, Biden has lapped his predecessor in cash. The Biden campaign and its political committees held $192 million at the end of March, more than double the $93 million that Trump, the Republican National Committee and their shared accounts reported. Biden will also benefit from more than $1 billion pledged by independent groups that back his re-election. Trump allies have so far announced only a pittance of the outside money Biden has accrued.

More than $1 billion pledged by “independent groups”? That is a lot of money. And who funds those independent groups? The very rich and public sector unions.

But the larger question is, how much does money matter in politics? In my opinion, money tends to be overrated, in part because it is often spent poorly on ineffective television ads. Still, those ads, even if not very cost-effective, have their place:

[P]residential campaign ads are not like commercials for insurance. They are aimed at people who don’t follow politics closely and may not have strong opinions about Biden and Trump. That’s a relatively small population, but it’s large enough to decide any of the eight battleground states.

The less well-known the candidate, the larger the impact of political advertising. In 2012, Barack Obama’s campaign began defining Mitt Romney as out-of-touch while he was still fighting his primary contest — helping to doom him in the general election.

That is a painful memory. The Democrats destroyed Romney while he was trying to get the nomination. He never should have forgiven them for that, but he did. But Trump and Biden are both well-known. Too well-known for their own good, in fact:

Presidential candidates are already so familiar to voters that advertising may mean less than in other races. That’s especially true here. Both Biden and Trump are universally known and not very well liked by the American public. Polling shows Trump’s supporters are loyal, while Biden’s biggest challenge is stitching back together the coalition of voters who backed him in 2020. Many of those constituencies — Black and Latino men, young people, some voters focused on the economy or Gaza — are reluctant to do so again. In response, the Biden campaign is using its money on ads to scare some of those people by arguing Trump would be far worse.

But most people already have firm opinions about Trump. As Beth Myers, a senior aide to the Romney campaign, said, “Carpet-bombing with negative ads — what Obama did to us in spring 2012 when we were low on cash — probably won’t be as effective for Biden.”

Biden has spent $15 million on ads since the beginning of March, according to AdImpact. His approval rating hasn’t moved.

No. And every time grocery prices go up or people see video from the southern border, his approval rating goes down. There is no amount of money Biden’s campaign can spend that will make up for the manifest failures of his administration.

And yet, Biden might win. If he does, it will not be because the Democrats, the party of the various establishments, have so much money. It will be because the Republicans nominated a uniquely vulnerable candidate, and because the abortion issue, played to the hilt, could swing critical voters to the Dems.

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