The media has loudly trumpeted the idea that money rules more than ever in this campaign season, thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, that allows unlimited contributions to super PACs.
But money doesn’t always talk. In six of the closest Republican Senate primaries this year, the less-funded candidate won, Politico reports.
The latest example came Tuesday, when Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake won about 70 percent of the vote in his primary race against real estate titan Wil Cardon. Cardon put $8 million of his own money into the race and outspent Flake 2-to-1 on television ads.
Politico sees no overarching explanation for the monetary minimization. “Some of the thrifty winners benefited from a splintered field, ducking below a crossfire of negativity,” it reports.
“Others were buoyed by the resilient anti-establishment and grass-roots movement that continues to build on its 2010 success.”
Still, one conclusion is inescapable: Money isn’t everything, and it’s not the only thing, to borrow from legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi.
“There is a point in high-profile races where there is a diminishing return on advertising dollars, especially in the waning days,” Texas GOP consultant Ray Sullivan, the chief spokesman for Rick Perry’s presidential bid, told Politico.
In addition to Flake, the less-well-heeled winners include Wisconsin’s Tommy Thompson, Missouri’s Todd Akin, Ted Cruz in Texas, Nebraska’s Deb Fischer, and Richard Mourdock in Indiana.
Ironically, money plays a smaller role in races for higher office, Sullivan says.
“The higher up on the ballot, the more difficult it is to rely on money alone,” he explained. “It’s when you get further down the ballot to races that don’t draw attention and media scrutiny where money matters more.”
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