Read the Bills Act Coalition

Monday, December 17, 2007

Campaign Spending and Votes

In what I believe is a nonsensical and inaccurate article in the Times Dispatch today, they make the claim that money cannot buy an election by using a mathematical formula that in essence states: Total Money spent Divided by number of votes received equals dollars spent per vote. This may appear on the surface to be an accurate formula (ex. Mark D. spent $108,978 on his campaign and collected 3,123 votes. That means he spent what amounted to $34.90 per vote.) Although I agree in principle that sheer spending of enormous amounts of cash doesn’t and shouldn’t buy elections if it is to be an effective way to select our leaders, I think the way this article come to that conclusion is erroneous. Then the article implies that since Tubbs spent the most money overall of any of the Candidates running for supervisor in Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico and lost that you don’t need a war chest to win an election and that the overall spending can be tied to each individual vote; this which is a false assumption. This article is misleading in a couple areas: 1. It does not take in consideration “effective” spending in a campaign as oppose to just throwing money at the election Willy Nilly. Effective spending can be as simple as making sure you are targeting all potential voters you need to reach and not spending too much money recruiting those that are already willing to vote for you or just spending to much with a particular printer when there are cheaper alternatives around. An effectively run campaign that has a good war chest should beat an ineffective campaign with a war chest or an effective campaign with little money. There are many variables as to the amount spent in a campaign and the return the campaign sees. 2. The attitude of the election will dictate what you need to spend to win. Chesterfield’s past election was a weird one for many reasons (detailed in previous posts) that caused several candidates to spend more than in past elections to combat misconceptions, innuendo, and new media introductions. When combating negative attacks the “effective” spending concept is diminished since the amount spent does not always yield good returns since the one attacked will be seen as defensive (and will never convince all that the accusations were false.)
To simplify the money per vote equation to all money spent Divided by number of votes receives leaves a lot of variables out of the picture that have enormous impacts on the results of the election. Read the article here:

More detailed commentary on this coming later in the week.

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