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It's a truism that money drives politics and has turned the American democracy into something far different than government of, by and for the people.  But an interesting question remains:  exactly how badly has the influence of money corrupted the idea of "one person, one vote"?

As one of them thar science-y folks, I can't help but wonder whether there's a way to objectively or quantitatively measure the impact of money on democracy.  I'm sure that others can suggest better or more informative ways of doing this, but here's what I'd start with (heavy emphasis on "start")....

1. collect polling results on a range of well-defined topics such as gun control, immigration reform, social security, defense spending, etc., etc., etc. as a function of (a) income, (b) net worth, (c) political donations and (d) personal hands-on political activism.  It's an open question whether donations should be broken down by Dem / Rep, etc.

2. compare raw polling results to results normalized for each of the above factors (i.e. the opinion of someone who donates $10k would be weighted 10k times heavier than someone who donates $1, as a very gross simplification).  

3. rank issues by mismatch in raw polling data vs. normalized polling data, and compare to how out-of-step Congress' votes are with respect to raw polling data.  I'm not positive what the best statistical test would be--experts, please weigh in--but a Wilcoxson rank-sum test might not be a bad "first-pass".

4. if possible, break things down based on individual states and/or Congressional districts since it's always nice to see who's been bought by special interests.

5. if possible, do a similar analysis for state governments.  As in (4), it's always nice to know which state governments are easiest to buy.

Again, I'll freely admit that this is far from fully refined.  That said, the DKos community has all the tools needed to properly develop this idea at its disposal :  Experts who know what they're doing (aka "people smarter and more experienced than me") and the ability to team with PPP to collect exactly this sort of data.  On top of that, concerns about the corruption of democracy are most certainly in step with our community's Progressive perspective.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nospinicus, JamieG from Md

    You think it's hot? Imagine what it would be like if global warming really existed!

    by JSc on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 05:44:53 PM PDT

  •  Compare Issues By Popular Sentiment vs (0+ / 0-)

    policy response. Universal background checks for guns would be one, Social Security and Medicare benefit preservation would be another where data should be pretty clear.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 06:14:49 PM PDT

  •  Republicans are asking the same thing. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JamieG from Md, JSc

    After spending million on the last presidential and congressional races and coming up short - very short, Republican bigwigs are asking why they spent so much and got so little.

    Could it be .. is it possible that true democracy reasserted itself and the will of the voters cut through all of the stultifying political ads that inundated us during the last campaign season?    

    •  That's a great point... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JamieG from Md

      and I think it has value in the context of elections.  While I admit my ignorance, I'm still not sure that the same analysis is relevant once "election season" is over.

      If anything, I think you cut to the core issue better than I did:  If true democracy reasserted itself at the polls in 2012, how has that changed between the election and now?  Have policy decisions mirrored the electoral results and voters' desired outcome?

      You think it's hot? Imagine what it would be like if global warming really existed!

      by JSc on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 08:04:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  JSc - are contributions less than $200 (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        even recorded anywhere?

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 09:53:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not that I know of - maybe rely on self-reporting? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Like I said--it's not a perfect or even fully-developed idea.  That said, I'm still curious whether we could actually measure how broken the system has become (even if our measurement has some inherent error).

          You think it's hot? Imagine what it would be like if global warming really existed!

          by JSc on Tue Apr 09, 2013 at 04:09:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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