04 January 2010

The Poverty of Republicanism?

A Newsweek blogger notes a surprising fundraising gap between Democrats and Republicans, with the GOP trailing by a big margin despite increasingly optimistic expectations of reclaiming the House of Representatives this November. The writer suggests that this reflects some trouble the Republicans are having sealing the deal with the Tea Partiers. This is plausible if the partiers are disgruntled Republicans who have not yet forgiven or forgotten despite their hatred for the Democrats. In such cases former donors may be holding back until the GOP shows more convincing proof that it has changed its Bushite ways.

On the other hand, Republican flirtation with the avowedly populist Tea Party movement may be spooking bigger donors. The big-money people may be willing to tolerate Democratic regulation and taxation as long as they can keep anyone who seriously threatens ending the bailout culture out of power. That's an understandable apprehension for those who think that allowing those entities that are "too big to fail" to fail will drag the whole American economy down. What may be going on here is 21st century capitalism placing its bets against the people who claim to be its most ardent defenders.

Since Republicans, arguing against any regulation or limitation of campaign donations, claim that money does not decide elections or influence candidates, they shouldn't worry about the current fundraising gap. The gap is not as gaping as it might seem in purely numerical terms, in any event, since radio talkers can be depended upon to help out with free promotion when Republican candidates can't afford advertising. Still, its intriguing to think that there are plenty of past donors out there waiting to find something else to spend their money on. This will be an interesting storyline to follow as the year goes on.

1 comment:

RHKINC said...

I think the underestimating of the GOP grass-roots movement ability will defy most "hold in my hand facts" observers. Just as they never saw Obama defeating Hillary until the very end, they won't see the signs of a GOP victory except in some polls and on the ground. Yet Obama managed to get big money from big donors while doing the grass-roots deal. Usually only one or the other works, and the GOP looks to be going for grass-roots while Dems are going for big bucks.