Monday, January 7, 2008

Iowa Refutes the Campaign Spending Myth

A cynic sees a dark, hopeless world, no matter what the evidence. So it is with those who are convinced that American elections are up for the highest bidder. He who spends the most wins the seat. It's a rich man's world.

The results of this year's Iowa caucuses disprove this charge quite dramatically.

According to CNN, as of September 30, Mike Huckabee has spent just $1.7 million compared to Mitt Romney's $53.6 million. Yet on January 3, Huckabee beat Romney by 9 points in Iowa.

On the Democratic side, though Clinton outspent Edwards more than 2 to 1 (40.5 million to 18 million, again as of September 30 according to FEC figures reported on, Edwards beat Clinton by one percentage point. In the race as whole, if spending followed the pattern established by the end of the third quarter, Barack Obama spent the most and also won. Ah-ha! But anyone who thinks that Obama won the Iowa caucuses just because he spent the most money is practicing bad science, isolating one factor (apart from message, charisma, Oprah, religion, Iraq, Hillaryscare, Clinton fatigue) and making it the sole factor.

This experience should motivate everyone who thinks that spending levels determine election outcomes to probe more deeply into the circumstances surrounding those high-spender electoral victories.

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