The Gabfest on the political influence of billionaires like Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer, and the Koch brothers; the Supreme Court’s rulings on voter ID cases in Wisconsin and Texas; and the two very different legacies of Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and Sen. Gary Hart.

Are Billionaires More Powerful Than Political Parties?

Are Billionaires More Powerful Than Political Parties?

Slate's weekly political roundtable.
Oct. 24 2014 10:15 AM

The “Fake ID” Edition

Listen to Slate’s show about the influence of billionaires on the midterms, the Supreme Court’s voter ID rulings, and Ben Bradlee’s journalistic legacy.

The Political Gabfest has moved! Find new episodes here.


Become a fan of the Political Gabfest on Facebook. We post to the Facebook page throughout the week, so keep the conversation going by joining us there. Or follow us @SlateGabfest!

To listen to the discussion, use the player below:


For this week’s Slate Plus bonus segment, Emily Bazelon talks about Obama’s judicial appointment legacy. Slate Plus members get an ad-free version of this podcast with bonus segments. Visit and try it free for two weeks.

On this week’s Slate Political Gabfest, Emily Bazelon, David Leonhardt, and David Plotz discuss the influence of billionaire-run super PACs in swing states, the Supreme Court’s recent voter ID law rulings, and Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee’s mark on journalism.

Here are some of the links and references mentioned during this week's show:

  • Tom Steyer, the billionaire founder of NextGen Climate, is spending $50 million out of his own pocket to support environmentally friendly candidates this year.
  • Republicans are very unpopular among all growing parts of the electorate including nonwhite voters and young people.
  • As Jim Rutenberg’s piece in the New York Times Magazine points out, companies owned by Koch industries stand to benefit from relaxed environmental regulations.
  • Though candidates with more money win 91 percent of the time, this correlation does not mean that money is directly responsible for a winning candidate’s victory.
  • Nate Cohn realized that even if no Hispanics voted Republican in the midterms, the GOP would still keep the House and—in some scenarios—could win the Senate.
  • From 2002–2011, only two people were indicted for in-person voter fraud in Texas.
  • The Supreme Court let the Texas voter ID law stand despite the fact that a lower court determined that the law intentionally discriminatory.
  • The U.S. has a lower voter participation rate than most other Western democracies.
  • President Obama was favored heavily in 2012 by unlikely voters.
  • John Dickerson wrote about how Gary Hart’s sex scandal didn’t change political journalism all that much.

David Leonhardt chatters about the mediocre World Series.

Emily chatters about the new show Transparent.

David Plotz chatters about Patricia Marx’s piece “Pig on a Plane.”

Topic ideas for next week? You can tweet suggestions, links, and questions to @SlateGabfest.

Join the discussion of this episode on Facebook.

The email address for the Political Gabfest is (Email may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

Podcast production by Mike Vuolo. Links compiled by Maxwell Tani.

Emily Bazelon is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine and the author of Sticks and Stones.

David Leonhardt is managing editor of The Upshot, a New York Times venture covering politics and policy.

David Plotz is the CEO of Atlas Obscura and host of the Slate Political Gabfest.