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25.9.06

Money attracted to quality in Shreveport mayor race

A canard about elections frequently circulated, often by those who should know better is “the more money spent, the more chance you have of being elected.” Not only does this phrasing not demonstrate as direct of a correlation as one may think, it also fundamentally misunderstands the role of money in elections.

Upon receiving this statement, one might be forgiven for making the next logical inference, which would be something like “money buys victory.” It does not, and let’s start with an empirical demonstration why not. Just to use one example, in 2004 in U.S. Senate elections, of the 34 of them, only 75 percent of the top 20 spenders won election. Further, in 4 of the 34, the lower spender won. Finally, 18 of the races weren’t competitive – the winner got better than 60 percent of the vote. In the competitive 16 contests was where the four lower spenders won. (The only defeated incumbent outspent his rival 3:2.)

This example, which is typical, points out several things which help us understand the relationship between spending and electoral performance. First of all, given the composition of the jurisdiction and perceptions of the candidate (usually an incumbent), in the majority of cases no amount of spending is going to make a difference, in that one candidate will clearly win regardless. (Perhaps the best example ever being the $64 million Democrat Tony Sanchez spent in 2002, $40 million more than his Republican incumbent opponent, to lose by 18 percent in a bid for the Texas governorship.)

Second, money is a relative thing: for example, in 2004 Sen. Arlen Specter raised the most money and won a close election while former Sen. Tom Daschle was close behind in spending yet lost his close election – even though Specter outspent his opponent by $17 million and Daschle outspent his by $7 million. (There were plenty out there who won by far bigger margins who didn’t spend much more than their opponents, or who spent among the lowest amounts of all the winners – the average competitive winner spent almost $13 million while the average noncompetitive winner spent under $6 million.)

Third, focusing on absolute spending misses the entire relevance of money in elections, because it rests on the untenable (and, as demonstrated above, empirically unsupported notion) that money creates quality in the minds of the electorate. In fact, that is the reverse of reality: it is candidate quality that attracts money. What money gets raised is the key, not what gets spent, and more gets spent (and thus raised) the more opponents spend (because they are able to raise it). In short, spending is wholly dependent upon the number of quality candidates in a contest; more than one elevates spending because more money is raised as each tries to fend off a quality opponent.

People (usually) are not irrational when comes to investments, which is what a donation to a political candidate is. The put their money down, so to speak, because they believe the candidate has quality and, therefore, has a chance to win. Unless you have unshakeable ideological convictions and are acting purely on principle, you don’t want to put your money where you know it will be wasted in defeat. Candidates who are perceived as higher quality are able to raise more because people (who for whatever reasons want them elected) see them as decent bets to win, and need to raise more if they face a similar quality opponent. That is, they raise more because they need to, and because they can.

Former city attorney Jerry Jones, the leading money-raiser in the race, well may win the mayor’s race and spend the most doing so. But that will only be a reflection of the quality of a candidate he is – both in terms of getting donations and votes – not because he “bought” any victory that may be his.

4 comments:

PEARRL said...

Partial facts center on the STATE Democratic Party spending $100,000.00 to attack Jerry Jones!

Well…Louisiana Politics of old has started at its finest! Let’s do a last minute media blitz….tell only part of the truth…and se if we can take down the most viable candidate since he’s not a democrat!
This morning a television ad started running attacking Jerry Jones specifically though there are numerous non-democratic candidates on the ballot for Shreveport’s next mayor!

The attacks claim that Jerry Jones says he is against gambling, yet he has accepted campaign contributions from the gaming industry.
What they fail to tell you is that Mr. Jones has repeatedly said that he does not personally gamble, he is against gambling, but he also knows that since gambling is here, provides many jobs, and provides revenues for the citizens of Shreveport; he has no intent of trying to get rid of it!

The second accusation is that Mr. Jones law firm made 2 million dollars representing the City of Shreveport and has represented gamblers and their interests. Well guys…you can’t have it both ways. If he is so much against the gaming industry, why would his firm represent them or their interests?
If this is true, then why don’t the ads relate that this money would have been made over an 8 year period and primarily from representing the City of Shreveport?

Now let’s think about this. I have been sued, I need an attorney, and I want the BEST available to represent me. Though I have NO DOUBT they did not intend to do this, but the democratic party just pointed out that they and the current administration think Mr. Jones and his law office is the BEST around. Think about it people…the city went to LEMLE and hired them. Why? Obviously because they are the best!

Wow…the STATE democratic party thinks “lil ole” Shreveport, LA mayors race is worthy of spending $100,000.00 on to try to keep a democrat mayor.
What is the interest here?
Everyone that has lived in Louisiana any length of time knows that the state democratic party is primarily controlled by the people living south of I-10 and primarily in the New Orleans area.

Do we really want the political machine in New Orleans picking our next mayor?

This is huge when a state party would get involved in a local race to the tune of that kind of money. You would think Mr. Jones is running for President!

The local candidates are wise no to go negative with their campaigns, so the state party is trying to do it for them.

If I was undecided before in the mayors race…this red flag has helped me decide!

I am also curious as to why “The Times” failed to mention that over 92% of Mr. Jones campaign contributions have come from people who live locally…unlike ANY other candidate who has raised more $3,000!

You go Mr. Jerry Jones…you now have my vote!

Anonymous said...

JERRY JONES should be ask how many times he has sued the CITY OF SHREVEPORT on behalf of clients,

Also in his ads he states that he was the CITY ATTORNEY UNDER HAZEL BEAIRD AND BO WILLIAMS, then in other ads he states that he was the city PROSECUTER under those MAYORS, its my understanding that the CITY ATTORNEY gives legal addvice to the MAYORS and the city and hires outside ATTORNEYS when suits are file against the city and the CITY PROSECUTER prosecutes traffic fines and misdemeaners.
Also you may want to ask Jerry Jones what the crime rate figures where when he was the
CITY ATTORNEY.

PEARRL said...

Hey do-do...the city prosecutor prosecutes crime.
They do not patrol or have the resources to prevent it.
Thats what a police department is for.
Learn your jobs descriptions before making such a stupid comments.
Also, a city prosecotor IS a CITY ATTORNEY numskull.

PEARRL said...

Have you seen Liz Swaines new commercial on property codes?
Who is running her campaign? Ed Bradley?
She talks about her and her husband buying their house and loving their neighborhood, "but, let me show you what is right behind our house."
Hello Liz Swaine....aren't you the same candidate that has been touting knowing what works and what doesn't. Obviously code enforcement doesn't work...LOL
You've been Hightower’s right arm for 8 years and you can't even get the code enforcement office to enforce someone behind your house to clean up their property in your own back yard....LOL
And you want people to trust you to run the WHOLE CITY...LOL
Your killing me...please stop!!!! My side is hurting!!!!!
Ha...Ha...Ha...Ha...Ha...Ha...!
Maybe she can get Gus to clean it up for her since he will be "out-of-the-loop"...LOL