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Why wasn't money effective?


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Overall campaign spending in 2020 favored Democrats by $6.9B to $3.8B (CNBC).   A few of those dollars were mine and I'm not thrilled with the results.  I'm glad Biden won the Presidency, but beyond that it's not much good news.  This isn't a 'Citizens United' issue.  Even corporate spending mostly went for Democrats.  It's not an electoral college issue or a gerrymandering issue.  I'm talking about raw votes.  Why didn't donations and spending translate into votes at the expected rate?

 

Usually, I don't ask a question unless I think I have an answer.  But, this really has me stumped.  Having Trump on the ballot should have made Democratic spending more effective than normal.  It wasn't a turnout issue...we set a modern record.

 

Brainstorming, I tried to come up with a few hypotheses:

 

- Poor strategy?   Maybe too much is spent in places that aren't competitive.  Maybe too much is spent on high cost/low reward advertising.

- Inconsistent messaging?   Campaign issues that help candidates in big cities may hurt candidates in swing states.  'Socialists' and 'corporate' Democrats in the same party is hard.

- Lack of leadership?  Leaders need loyal followers.  

- Too many big ideas?  Maybe Democrats proposed too many major changes at the same time. 

 

None of this seems exactly right to me.  I can think of rebuttals to each possibility. 

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The truth is that it never has been that significant. Studies have been done on this. What matters more than anything is narratives. These profligate on social media and mass media. These are areas that conservatives are just far better at, for one single reason: They disregard expertise. That allows them to spin whatever narrative they want without regard for "being correct." It's a massive advantage they have, and something liberals need to reckon with.

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15 hours ago, CarlMenger said:

The truth is that it never has been that significant. Studies have been done on this. What matters more than anything is narratives. These profligate on social media and mass media. These are areas that conservatives are just far better at, for one single reason: They disregard expertise. That allows them to spin whatever narrative they want without regard for "being correct." It's a massive advantage they have, and something liberals need to reckon with.

 

I can see that the importance of money has been overstated in the past.  The correlation of money and winning has occasionally been misinterpreted as causation. 

 

But, why would voters prefer a narrative that's not 'correct'?  

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I think you nailed it with poor strategy and inconsistent messaging.   The DNC wanted this to be a one-issue election, that being "get Trump out of office".   Its actually pretty impressive that they pulled it off.  Somehow right up to election day Biden represented the "generic democrat" that always polls well against an incumbent republican.   

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