Rich People Wasted Their Money

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 8 2012 9:25 AM

Rich People Wasted Their Money

I'm excited to see that "Super PACS wasted a lot of money on stupid crap" is becoming a popular election wrap-up theme. It's all true! After they held off the GOP, Democrats could finally admit that they were stunned at the lameness of Now or Never and American Crossroads and Ending Spending and Restore Our Future, and how they ran cookie-cutter TV spots instead of organizing people.

Here's my take on the story. But please, read all the takes in this growing and exciting genre! Max Abelson hung out in New York with sad donors. Ken Vogel, the undisputed master of the beat, talked to the moneymen who realized that they failed.

“I have not been a big fan of ads from Day One,” said Foster Friess, whose money kept Rick Santorum alive in the Republican primary, adding he was planning to shift his cash from television ads to grass-roots organizing.
“I’m sort of burned out right now — just how much effort and resources I put into it — but I think it’s money well spent because it’s part of the process. And you don’t always win,” the retired mutual fund pioneer told POLITICO.

Here's the problem: Some of the big money went to organizing. I hung out multiple times with volunteers for American Majority, Americans for Prosperity, and FreedomWorks, all of which got sizable donations in order to turn out votes. Tea Partiers signed up, taking literature from home to home, trying to repeat the magic of 2010. It did not work. It wasn't just that the ads were lame, it was that the organizing was monumentally less effective than OFA's four-year campaign.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



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