But is that true?
There’s growing empirical evidence it’s not.
“Money doesn’t necessarily cause a candidate to win — but, rather, that the kind of candidate who’s attractive to voters also ends up attracting a lot of money,” the economists say. “So winning an election and raising money do go together, just as rain and umbrellas go together. But umbrellas don’t cause the rain. And it doesn’t seem as if money really causes electoral victories either, at least not nearly to the extent that the conventional wisdom says. For every well-funded candidate who seems to confirm that money buys elections (paging Michael Bloomberg), you can find counterexamples like Meg Whitman, Linda McMahon, Steve Forbes, and Tom Golisano.”
The Freakanomics guys, Steve Levitt and Stephen Dubner, point to our own Gov. Rick Perry.
Their conclusions are echoed by others. New York University Professor Robert Shrum, who has served as an advisor to many Democratic presidential candidates, agrees.
University of Missouri at Columbia economics professor Jeff Milo says the same thing.
“The misperception that political spending drives electoral outcomes is reinforced every campaign season by sensational media coverage, post-election debriefs from losing candidates and the exaggerated rhetoric of professional reform advocates,” he says. “And this first presidential election cycle post-Citizens United promises to bolster that errant view as sanctimonious posturing by pundits on the evils of money in politics will likely crescendo to a spectacle rivaling only a North Korean grief orgy.”
We have argued before that efforts to roll back the Citizens United decision amount to censorship — government telling people what they can and can’t say.
But the evidence now shows it’s also a response to a non-existent threat. You simply can’t buy elections in the modern era — just ask Rick Perry.