Current Weather
The Spy FM

Coming To A Political Campaign Near You: Outside Money, And Lots Of It

Filed by KOSU News in US News.
May 16, 2012

It’s happening in several congressional races, in states like Nebraska, Montana and Ohio — millions of dollars from out-of-state donors and outside groups are fueling candidates’ war chests.

Last week in Indiana, outside money helped Richard Mourdock beat out six-term incumbent Sen. Dick Lugar in the GOP primary.

On Wednesday, WCPN’s David C. Barnett reports for NPR’s Morning Edition about the congressional race in Ohio’s 9th District. The Republican challenger there is Joe Wurzelbacher, aka “Joe the Plumber,” the guy who rose to fame in 2008 by tangling with then-candidate Barack Obama. The incumbent Democrat is Marcy Kaptur, and $3 out of every $4 in the race has come from donors who don’t live in Ohio’s 9th.

When did so many Americans decide races outside their backyards were important enough to back financially?

NPR’s science correspondent, Shankar Vedantam stopped by Morning Edition with recent social science research that could provide some answers.

“Across the United States, money is pouring into congressional races that comes from outside the congressional district, and there’s another thing that’s happening at the same time, which is a lot of the money is increasingly coming from donors who identify themselves as strongly partisan,” Vedantam explains.

He points to an article in the latest issue of American Politics Research by Ray La Raja and David Wiltse.

In 1972, 40 percent of donors to congressional and presidential races identified themselves as liberals or conservatives. Today, the number is about 60 percent, says La Raja, a political science professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Along with that partisan spike comes a similar trend in political contributions: Donors are using their money to weigh in on ideological national issues, such as abortion, gay marriage and foreign policy, instead of focusing solely on local issues.

“What La Raja’s research seems to suggest is that Washington’s polarization came first, and starting in about 2002, there has been this really growing polarization among the voters, which is translating into more partisan donors in politics,” Vedantam says.

And, why is 2002 so important to La Raja’s findings? He says that’s when political campaigns really began to focus on online fundraising.

“Now, you’re sitting in front of your computer, you get an email that says, ‘Look what those people are doing to us in Washington.’ You have your credit card ready, the people who are motivated by that are passionate about the issues, they’re ideological. They send money,” La Raja says.

Campaign fundraising has become a “self-reinforcing system,” Vedantam says, where politicians appeal to those partisan contributors who are likely to give money to a particular cause or campaign, and the cycle encourages itself again and again over each political year. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

5AM to 9AM Morning Edition

Morning Edition

For more than two decades, NPR's Morning Edition has prepared listeners for the day ahead with two hours of up-to-the-minute news, background analysis, commentary, and coverage of arts and sports.

Listen Live Now!

9AM to 10AM The Takeaway

The Takeaway

A fresh alternative in morning news, "The Takeaway" provides a breadth and depth of world, national and regional news coverage that is unprecedented in public media.

View the program guide!

10AM to 11PM On Point

On Point

On Point unites distinct and provocative voices with passionate discussion as it confronts the stories that are at the center of what is important in the world today. Leaving no perspective unchallenged, On Point digs past the surface and into the core of a subject, exposing each of its real world implications.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center