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Old Nov 13, 2012, 08:03 PM   #1
bradl
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Analysis of the First post-Citizens United Presidential Election

Caught this a few minutes ago at NPR.. and to be honest, the numbers say it all.

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Some Early Returns From First Post-Citizens United Election

by Peter Overby
November 13, 2012 4:57 PM

Political observers are still working through the rubble of the unprecedented $6 billion presidential campaign, but we're getting a steady stream of reaction and analysis.

The liberal advocacy groups U.S. PIRG and Demos have one of the most striking numerical comparisons: 1.4 million to 61.

That is, it took more than 1.4 million donors for President Obama and Mitt Romney to raise $285.2 million through one traditional fundraising avenue — the campaign's small, unitemized contributions of $200 or less.

It took 61 wealthy donors to give the same amount of money through a new player — the unregulated superPAC.

Specifically, the $285.2 million came from a minimum of 1,425,500 donors, most of them giving to the Obama campaign. But it would be matched by merely 61 of the 132 donors who gave at least $1 million to superPACs involved in the presidential race, like the pro-Romney Restore Our Future and the pro-Obama Priorities USA Action.

The U.S. PIRG-Demos report says those 132 largest donors gave an average $4.7 million each to superPACs.

On Friday, George Washington University Law School assembles some of the mavens of the political money world for a post-election assessment of the hot-button issues of political money and voting rights.

And a few groups already are using the numbers from the just ended election to launch efforts to change campaign finance law: The watchdog group Common Cause wants a constitutional amendment to undo Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court ruling that, more than anything else, uncorked the big money; and the liberal United Republic, which says it is "dedicated to ending the corrupting influence of money in politics," unveiled a proposal on Tuesday seeking online "citizen co-sponsors" of a plan to overhaul political finance and lobbying laws.
I don't care what side of the political spectrum you are on; this is so bloody lopsided it's pathetic. I hope Sam Alito is happy with the ****storm he's created and affirmed. I'm seriously hoping the POTUS gets the chance to add justices to SCOTUS to replace those nearing retirement. Then perhaps this farce of a ruling can be revisited and overturned.

BL.
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 08:14 PM   #2
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Id much rather see a system where every citizen was allowed to give 1000 per election year to the political candidate of their choice.

6 billion dollars for an election, pitiful.

In Canada no third party group can spend more than $150,000 on campaigns, citizens cannot donate more than 1200 per year and members of parliament are capped at spending 70,000 IIRC.

Some would say this is encroaching on freedom of speech, but I see it more of keeping money out of politics, everyone is free to voice their opinion still. It doesn't cost you money to go out and put a picket in your yard, or join a rally. I don't understand how buying an election could be considered freedom of speech.
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 09:15 PM   #3
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Some would say this is encroaching on freedom of speech, but I see it more of keeping money out of politics, everyone is free to voice their opinion still. It doesn't cost you money to go out and put a picket in your yard, or join a rally. I don't understand how buying an election could be considered freedom of speech.
Yeah, but Corporations are people, albeit really, REALLY big people, so they should be able to donate more.

Right?
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 09:21 PM   #4
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6 billion... that's $49.48 per person who voted (57.5% turnout).
50 bucks a head!
6 billion is also the entire gross domestic product of Rwanda.

In the last election in the UK, the total spending by all parties was $49M, or $1.65 per vote cast (65.1% turnout). In the US you spent 30 times more per vote.

All parties combined spent 40 million on the 2010 election here in Sweden, that's $6.67 per vote cast (84% turnout).

Time for compulsory voting in the US, eh...?
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 10:08 PM   #5
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I would argue that the unlimited money is against the freedom of speech because those with the most money can effectively drown out everyone else voices and make it impossible for them to even say anything or be heard.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 01:48 PM   #6
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I would argue that the unlimited money is against the freedom of speech because those with the most money can effectively drown out everyone else voices and make it impossible for them to even say anything or be heard.
You know...

This actually may be a valid argument against the constitutionality of Citizens United. If it could be argued that Corporations are effectively spending their money to drown out the speech of the common citizen, this would definitely come to be at odds with the 1st Amendment.

Resident lawyers: Any thoughts?

BL.

Last edited by bradl; Nov 14, 2012 at 02:49 PM. Reason: drown, not down! oops...
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 02:24 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Zombie Acorn View Post
Id much rather see a system where every citizen was allowed to give 1000 per election year to the political candidate of their choice.

6 billion dollars for an election, pitiful.

In Canada no third party group can spend more than $150,000 on campaigns, citizens cannot donate more than 1200 per year and members of parliament are capped at spending 70,000 IIRC.
That sounds excellent.


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Originally Posted by Zombie Acorn View Post
Some would say this is encroaching on freedom of speech, but I see it more of keeping money out of politics, everyone is free to voice their opinion still. It doesn't cost you money to go out and put a picket in your yard, or join a rally. I don't understand how buying an election could be considered freedom of speech.
It depends how you view the alignment of speech and money. It's not just the money issue. Politicians spend way too much of their time raising campaign funds.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 02:43 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by bradl View Post
You know...

This actually may be a valid argument against the constitutionality of Citizens United. If it could be argued that Corporations are effectively spending their money to down out the speech of the common citizen, this would definitely come to be at odds with the 1st Amendment.

Resident lawyers: Any thoughts?

BL.
Fundamentally, no. The purpose of the first amendment is to constrain the government from imposing on the rights of people. Within reason, of course (there are laws against libel and ordinances restricting large gatherings in public places). Freedom of speech does not give you the right to tell me as a private citizen that I cannot yell louder than you to drown you out. Nor does it enjoin you from broadcasting falsehoods, distortions and misinformation, as long as no one case prove personal injury because of it.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 02:47 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by bradl View Post
You know...

This actually may be a valid argument against the constitutionality of Citizens United. If it could be argued that Corporations are effectively spending their money to down out the speech of the common citizen, this would definitely come to be at odds with the 1st Amendment.

Resident lawyers: Any thoughts?

BL.
I doubt that would fly as the First Amendment protects Free Speech citizens from government suppression of speech but it does not guarantee everyone an equal audience for their speech. For example, FOX News and MSNBC obviously can reach a larger audience via TV and the internet than I can by standing on a street corner with a megaphone but that doesn't mean they are restricting my right to Free Speech.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 02:51 PM   #10
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Fundamentally, no. The purpose of the first amendment is to constrain the government from imposing on the rights of people. Within reason, of course (there are laws against libel and ordinances restricting large gatherings in public places). Freedom of speech does not give you the right to tell me as a private citizen that I cannot yell louder than you to drown you out. Nor does it enjoin you from broadcasting falsehoods, distortions and misinformation, as long as no one case prove personal injury because of it.
Is there any reason why the names of the donors and the amount contributed can't be required to be completely transparent? Or is it already?
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 02:53 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by LethalWolfe View Post
I doubt that would fly as the First Amendment protects Free Speech citizens from government suppression of speech but it does not guarantee everyone an equal audience for their speech. For example, FOX News and MSNBC obviously can reach a larger audience via TV and the internet than I can by standing on a street corner with a megaphone but that doesn't mean they are restricting my right to Free Speech.
But in that aspect, I beg to differ.

During the 2003 Governor's recall and race in California, gubernatorial candidates sued the networks who were airing Schwarzennegger's movies, as he was also a candidate, on the grounds that they were giving him an unfair amount of air time compared to the others. They won that case, resulting in none of Arnold's movies being shown without equal amount of time for every other candidate.

So there is a bit of a precedent set there. How much that could apply to corporations, I am not sure.

BL.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 03:06 PM   #12
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Freedom of speech does not give you the right to tell me as a private citizen that I cannot yell louder than you to drown you out.
GOP SuperPAC 1, Democracy 0.

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Nor does it enjoin you from broadcasting falsehoods, distortions and misinformation, as long as no one case prove personal injury because of it.
Fox News 1, Reality 0.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 03:18 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Sydde View Post
Fundamentally, no. The purpose of the first amendment is to constrain the government from imposing on the rights of people. Within reason, of course (there are laws against libel and ordinances restricting large gatherings in public places). Freedom of speech does not give you the right to tell me as a private citizen that I cannot yell louder than you to drown you out. Nor does it enjoin you from broadcasting falsehoods, distortions and misinformation, as long as no one case prove personal injury because of it.
Well if that is a case something we can do is greatly tighten the laws on libel in anything to do with campaigning. Have massive fines and if not paid with in say 3-4 days of being issued they are banned from any tv ads and all ads schedule must be pulled.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 03:23 PM   #14
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But in that aspect, I beg to differ.

During the 2003 Governor's recall and race in California, gubernatorial candidates sued the networks who were airing Schwarzennegger's movies, as he was also a candidate, on the grounds that they were giving him an unfair amount of air time compared to the others. They won that case, resulting in none of Arnold's movies being shown without equal amount of time for every other candidate.

So there is a bit of a precedent set there. How much that could apply to corporations, I am not sure.

BL.
The 'equal time rule' is a provision of the FCC, only impacts broadcast radio and TV (so cable, satellite, etc are immune) and is not part of the 1st Amendment. This provision was instituted to try and level the playing field between candidates and is a far cry from restricting how individuals can express political speech in the form of donating money to the candiate of their choice. A big crux of the problem is corporations having citizen status in America.

As an aside, from what I remember Schwarzennegger's campaign requested broadcasters not air his movies so his opponents would not have grounds to ask for equal time.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 03:27 PM   #15
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Is there any reason why the names of the donors and the amount contributed can't be required to be completely transparent? Or is it already?
The secret donors thing has to do with the 501(c)4 designation and some obscure aspects of IRS law. Then, of course, we have the fourth amendment, which protects privacy rights.

----------

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Well if that is a case something we can do is greatly tighten the laws on libel in anything to do with campaigning. Have massive fines and if not paid with in say 3-4 days of being issued they are banned from any tv ads and all ads schedule must be pulled.
Libel is a pretty high bar to get over. Many of the lies told in campaigning are just truthy enough to stay within the law. Many of them are "... my opponent will do this ...", which are incredibly difficult to call genuinely false.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 03:45 PM   #16
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It depends how you view the alignment of speech and money. It's not just the money issue. Politicians spend way too much of their time raising campaign funds.
I agree that the total amount of time spent raising funds is gross. Obama held ~160 fundraisers this year while G.W. Bush only had 79 in the 2004 presidential race. That's double. And disgusting.

Although money does not directly buy votes in America...money buys votes in America. These ridiculous figures are only going to continue to increase unless massive legislation reform is made.

In addition to this thought, negative political campaigning needs to go. I don't care about your freedoms, I'm a conservative so I actually prefer securing my rights, however no politician should directly *****-talk their opponent to the public.

I'm honestly scared to see the number of events held and amount of money raised for the 2016 race.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 04:44 PM   #17
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After this election, I've been wondering if Citizens United was going to be the cause of its own demise. Look at all the money big businesses and Super PACs on the right poured into this campaign, and they have nothing to show for it. They lost the White House, lost senate seats, and have a slimmer majority on the house.

What will be interesting to see is if Rove, the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, and all the people who donated huge sums of cash to their PACs and republican candidates will double down in 2016, or realize money does not buy votes and withhold donations.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 04:54 PM   #18
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What will be interesting to see is if Rove, the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, and all the people who donated huge sums of cash to their PACs and republican candidates will double down in 2016, or realize money does not buy votes and withhold donations.
Money does buy votes but there are only so many hurdles money alone can over come. I mean, it's not like the GOP spent a ton of money and the Dems spent zero.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 05:13 PM   #19
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I can see why Citizens United was upheld by the courts. I am not comfortable with the whole shade that has been placed between donors and their organizations. The best of both worlds is full disclosure. Sure Koch and whomever can donate unlimited amounts of money to promote something, but no subterfuge. Make the records 100% public.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 05:22 PM   #20
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Libel is a pretty high bar to get over. Many of the lies told in campaigning are just truthy enough to stay within the law. Many of them are "... my opponent will do this ...", which are incredibly difficult to call genuinely false.
then lower the bar on what is consider false and misleading. Hell just go to misleading and watch it fall.

Something need to be done because some of the attack ads this year were pretty much down right lies.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 06:46 PM   #21
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then lower the bar on what is consider false and misleading. Hell just go to misleading and watch it fall.

Something need to be done because some of the attack ads this year were pretty much down right lies.
Here is the other problem you run into: O'Reilly, Maddow, Hannity, Matthews, etc, etc. These newsoids are for sale, make no mistake about it, and there is absolutely nothing that can be done to restrain them. Newscorp and WTVT, with the support of the rest of the major media players, in a court of law, won the right to present false information. Literally, to knowingly deceive their viewers on behalf of their customers. How do you fight that?

After the first Tuesday in November, it is commonly felt that the election is done, the people have spoken, there is no recourse. Kind of silly, really, I think the system needs to have a lot more flexibility than it currently does. Or maybe some sensible changes in structure. What we have is not really working, but we are to afraid to try to do anything about it because "broken" is the only way we know.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 06:53 PM   #22
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One theme I keep hearing is that it was Obama's 'ground game' that won the election. He was able to get thousands upon thousands of people to pound the pavement, get people registered and make sure they went to the polls.

I think the real story of this election is that all the money in the world isn't going to make up for a grassroots campaign.


On another note, why is there such a long lead up to the elections? It seems as though it is more or less a two year process. That's insane. It may have made sense in the age of the railroad, but in the internet age, I would think that 1 January of the year of the election gives more than enough time. That's 10 months to announce, get nominated and run a campaign. Such a short time frame would mean only so much money could be raised, only so much could be spent and only so many attack ads could be run.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 07:08 PM   #23
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That's 10 months to announce, get nominated and run a campaign. Such a short time frame would mean only so much money could be raised, only so much could be spent and only so many attack ads could be run.
I think you might have answer your own question. The earlier you start the more money you can raise and the sooner you can start trying to plant the seeds for your grass roots campaigning.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 08:44 PM   #24
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Imagine how much food $6 bil could buy...
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Old Nov 15, 2012, 05:48 AM   #25
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The secret donors thing has to do with the 501(c)4 designation and some obscure aspects of IRS law. Then, of course, we have the fourth amendment, which protects privacy rights...
Like the right not to have some government agency snooping on all my electronic communications?
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