Friday, October 15, 2010

This Might Work

According to Greg Sargent at The Plum Line, voters might actually care about the Chamber of Commerce spending money from foreign donors on campaign ads.

It has become an article of faith among certain Beltway inside-game commentators that there’s no way the Dem attack on secret money funding elections could ever have a prayer of working. Surely the issue is too esoteric, too process-y, and too removed from voter concerns about the economy to resonate.

But a new poll commissioned by MoveOn, and done by the respected non-partisan firm Survey USA, strongly suggests that the issue may indeed matter a good deal to voters after all.

The poll finds that two thirds of registered voters, or 66 percent, are aware that outside groups are behind some of the ads they’re seeing. This makes sense, since the issue has dominated the media amid the battle over the huge ad onslaught against Dems funded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove’s groups.

What’s more, an overwhelming 84 percent say they have a “right to know” who’s bankrolling the ads. And crucially, the poll also found that the issue is resonant when linked to the economy. A majority, 53 percent, are less likely to think a candidate who is backed by “anonymous groups” can be trusted to “improve economic conditions” for them or their families. People don’t believe these groups are looking out for their interests.

Whether or not this will make a difference in the elections in less than three weeks is problematic; it’s a little late for an October surprise — those usually need to start in September in order to sink in — it does have implications for what could happen after the elections. Either by legislation or just plain public clamor, secret donors to campaigns are going to find themselves under pressure to disclose what they’re doing.

I’ve never been able to figure out why people who support a particular candidate, regardless of party or philosophy, would want to keep it under wraps. If you support the Tea Party or some such group and believe in their goals and their candidates, why not say so publicly? What’s the matter; are you embarrassed by it or afraid of the public backlash? (If so, that right there should tell you something about your causes.)

Frankly, I don’t even like the idea of groups from out of state coming into Florida or wherever and trying to inject themselves into local elections, regardless of whether or not I support the candidate. If you don’t live here and don’t vote here, don’t spend your money trying to buy my vote.

At any rate, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce seems to have handed the Democrats a golden opportunity to make foreign money infiltrating the American elections a big issue in the campaign; you can tell it’s a good one by the volcanic denials of those caught in the act. The only question left is how the Democrats will blow it.