Remarkably, despite all that heavy ad spending (and Obamacare lies exposed as b.s.) from Americans for Prosperity, [Democratic Senate candidate Gary] Peters' favorables have barely budged, from 21-22 late last year to 26-27 now.As of the end of March, AFP had spent just over $2 million attacking Peters, and they just announced another $1.5 million buy. Given that the first $2 million bought them absolutely zero advantage in Peters' favor abilities (from a minus one to minus one), do they really think that hammering the same ineffective message will bear better results?
But a better example is Ohio's 2012 Senate election. Republicans dumped $40 million against then-freshman Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. He was one of the most liberal senators in a 50-50 swing state, giving conservatives plenty of ammunition to work with. Yet what did all that spending net them? Not much. I ran the numbers:
[B]y the time Election Day rolled around, Brown had faced a crazy $40 million spent against him: $31 million on the air, $2 million in polling, $7 million in direct mail, and staff, billboards, and other expenses.What about the head-to-head? In September 2011, the TPM polling aggregate had Brown leading 48.6 to 35.7 percent. Brown won the election 50.7 to 44.7 percent. Again, $40 million spent to damage Brown was completely wasted. His favorabilities remained unchanged. His share of supporters actually increased.
Remember, negative attacks serve one purpose—to make the target so radioactively unpopular, that malaria could defeat him or her at the polls.
In October of 2011, PPP had Brown's job approval ratings at 40-35. In late January he was at 42-34. On Election Day, he clocked in at 48-43.
In other words, all those attack ads moved Brown from a 5-point net-positive approval rating late last year, to ... a 5-point net-positive approval rating on Election eve.
None of this is to say that money has no impact in politics. It does, particularly at lower levels of government. It's pernicious, corrosive, and must be restrained. But money isn't determinate. Billionaires may be trying, but they still don't have the ability to outright buy elections. We still have a say in the matter. The biggest say, in fact.
So don't be discouraged by big money, be pissed. It's a much more productive emotion, and has the benefit of being the truly appropriate response.