Mommy, Where Do Votes Come From?

When Obama was elected, the media were unanimous that the reason for his election was based on a “need for change”.  When Scott Brown was recently elected, the media also said this was a reflection on the people’s “need for change”.  And when the Supreme Court took away the limit on corporate spending towards political campaigns, the media said this would change future elections.  This shocked and appalled me – not the decision, but the media’s reaction.

The Supreme Court gave corporations carte blanche to spend on political advertising based on precedent and the first amendment.  I think they made the right call.  Like John Roberts said, “Judges are like umpires.  Umpires don’t make the rules; they apply them.”  The problem is in the precedent of ruling corporations as citizens in the first place, not in the current ruling upholding free speech.

The media are in an uproar over this, suggesting that corporations can buy votes.  This is based on the idea that money buys influence.  Consider the following elections and money spent on campaigning:

2008: Obama – $730 M; McCain – $333 M

2004: Bush – $367 M; Kerry – $328 M

It’s reasonable that money buys influence.  Correlation doesn’t prove causation – it’s an ad hoc argument – but corporations are spending millions on advertising during the Super Bowl based on the theory that money buys influence.

So here’s the disparity – the media are upset about the Supreme Court decision, reflecting the feelings of most Americans, on what I believe is a logical belief in the shift of power to corporations.  What I don’t understand is how they’ve based previous election results on “the will of the people” and not “campaign spending”.  You can’t have it both ways – either money wins elections or it doesn’t.  I think it does, and apparently so do most people.  Let’s remember this the next time an election is won, and give credit where it’s due.


About starcrashx

I love statistics. They drive my poker playing, my reasoning, and my research. As Penn Gillete said "Luck is probability taken personally". There's no such thing as luck... but I wish you positive chance. View all posts by starcrashx

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