Of COURSE most of Wilson’s and Miller’s money is from outside SC. Those donors don’t know them.

I see that most of the money that has unfortunately flowed into the coffers of Joe Wilson and Rob Miller came from out-of-state:

Over the next 21 days, through the Sept. 30 end of this year’s third quarter, Wilson and Miller combined to raise $4.34 million – more than Democratic Rep. John Spratt and GOP challenger Ralph Norman collected over two years for their 2000 election in what had been the state’s richest U.S. House race ever.

No less remarkably, the vast majority of the largest donors to Wilson or Miller live outside South Carolina – 77 percent of Wilson’s new backers, and 86 percent of Miller’s recent supporters…

Nothing remarkable about it. It stands to reason — out-of-state donors don’t know these guys.

A more discriminating, local giver would probably wait and give to a candidate who could provide better representation to the 2nd District (ahem!). These ideologues from elsewhere couldn’t care less about the 2nd District or any other part of South Carolina; they’re just doing their bit to keep the partisan spin cycle spinning.

A donor who’s giving money to Joe Wilson because he yelled “You lie!” probably wouldn’t give it if he knew that normally, Joe is not a natural vessel for delivering such hostility. He’s a fairly mild-mannered guy who lost control for a moment, and initially did what came naturally and apologized, before getting swept up in something ugly.

A donor who wishes to express outrage over what Wilson does probably wouldn’t give to Rob Miller if he knew what a weak candidate he was. (My prediction: If no other candidates get into this — and unfortunately, with them sitting on all this money now, probably no one will — Miller will probably lose to Wilson by almost the same margin by which he’s trailing him in fund-raising. $2.7 million to $1.69 million — well, maybe the Democrat would do a little better than just under 40 percent, but he still will lose substantially.)

31 thoughts on “Of COURSE most of Wilson’s and Miller’s money is from outside SC. Those donors don’t know them.

  1. Greg Flowers

    While there are some factors which could result in a non-Republican being elected in the 2nd District they almost rise to the classic level of the Repub candidate being caught in bed with a “live boy or a dead girl” and if that happened early enough the matter could be handled in the primary. Historically
    Lexington County is one of the most Republican in the country, home of true “yellow dogs”, this is exacerbated by the fact that, wherever possible, minority votes have been bled off to ensure a black majority in the neighboring 6th District. Add to this the fact that there are a number of voters in the 2nd feel the same way about Wilson’s shout as many South Carolinians felt about Preston Brooks Caning Charles Sumner on the floor of Congress. He was widely feted and was presented with several ceremonial canes at least on of which was inscribed with the legend “hit him again.”

    In my opinion, until the gerrymandering that resulted in the current 6th is remedied there is really no sense is discussing who will represent the 2nd after the 2010 elections. Regardless of the strength of the Democratic (or other) candidate it will be a Republican.

    A friend of mine used to coach a girls athletic team at a Lexington County High School. At one of the early practices he told the young ladies that they were going to choose a captain through a democratic election. The team members were visibly uncomfortable and finally one piped up “But Coach, we’re all Republicans.”

  2. kbfenner

    “A more discriminating, local giver would probably wait and give to a candidate who could provide better representation to the 2nd District (ahem!).”

    Ahem, indeed.

    and wait. and wait. and wait…..

  3. Karen McLeod

    Could they at least elect a more self controlled Rep. who is less likely to be seduced by the money and acclaim he got/can get from such execrable conduct?

  4. Doug Ross

    “Could they at least elect a more self controlled Rep. who is less likely to be seduced by the money and acclaim he got/can get from such execrable conduct?”

    Unfortunately, that is one of the prerequisite character traits to be a politician.

    Lindsey Graham has about $4 million in the bank. How is that any different than Joe Wilson’s money, Brad? Why does he need $4 million?

  5. David

    Could they at least elect a more self controlled Rep. who is less likely to be seduced by the money and acclaim he got/can get from such execrable conduct?

    I’d have to take it on faith that one as described above even exists.

    Sigh — would it be so wrong if we the people could legally limit campaign donations to only those made by potential constituents of the candidates?

  6. Doug Ross


    Excellent point. Imagine the uproar we’d hear from career politicians and the hacks, flacks, and operatives whose livelihood depends on shaking down/colluding with businesses to steal tax dollars?

    A quick check of the most recent FEC report for Senator Graham shows most of the large individual donations ($2400-$4800) come from NY and FL. One would wonder what you get for a $2400 “donation”?

  7. kbfenner

    @ Doug

    The difference to me between Joe Wilson’s money and anyone else’s is that a major chunk of Joe’s seems to have been “earned” in response to his boorish (his wife’s term, I believe) behavior which thrust us embarrassingly, yet again,on the national stage.

    The greatest comfort to me in all of this is the analysis in Freakonomics that established that cash doesn’t seem to make a difference in an election. Incumbents tend to raise more cash, so we think it does,b/c incumbents also tend to get reelected. See also Ross Perot, Michael Huffington, et al. Many very well-funded candidates do very poorly. The Freak. guys did double regression analyses or such and removed whatever confounding factors they could come up with. It’s pretty convincing when I read it.

  8. Brad Warthen

    Access. A returned phone call. And it’s up to us to decide whether we find that transaction to constitute corruption of the public trust. That’s the value in financial disclosure; it empowers you to make that judgment as a voter.

    I find the whole thing — the constant imperative to raise ridiculous amounts of cash in order to win elections — disturbing. Not so much because I necessarily think a politician is corrupted by a particular contribution (although I think the whole process, in toto, is corrosive), but because it’s a horrible waste of time and energy on the part of someone who should be concentrating on the work of representation.

    Unfortunately, I find the silver bullets that have been suggested equally unsatisfactory. Doug, and a lot of conservatives, will suggest term limits. I don’t like that because just as I was a better newspaperman after a few years of experience (I was really stupid in the early days, I can now see), an elected representative is far more good to his constituents after he figures out how things work.

    And from the left we have the panacea of publicly financed elections, which REALLY bothers me. The last thing in the world I want my tax money going to (even with a voluntary checkoff) is for a politician’s major media buy. It’s bad enough seeing that junk when you know it’s some other private donor’s money.

    The real cure is for voters, collectively, to become hip enough not to be influenced by that stuff. And to that end, I do my own small part to provide such perspective, and speak up when the emperor’s clothes fail to cover his privates. Quixotic? Yes, but the alternatives fail to persuade.

  9. Doug Ross

    I’m not convinced that politics requires years of on the job training.

    Doesn’t it then become sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy? i.e. don’t vote for the new guy because he can’t know as much as the old guy.

    Ten years in the U.S. House would be enough as would three Senate terms. All you have to do is sit out one election and then find out if the people REALLY want to have you back. A little change and a little real world experience every decade or two can’t hurt, can it?

    Whatever problems exist in our government currently weren’t created by freshman representatives. Think about that.

  10. Brad Warthen

    Martin, thanks, but I knew about that. That’s why my COBRA costs me (slightly) less than $600 a month in premiums.

    When the discount runs out (very soon, for me), it will cost about $1,500 a month. This is why COBRA is not a solution to our health care woes, and why (until the day when we have real reform) my job search is largely limited either to jobs with great benefits, or jobs that pay so much that $1,500 would be affordable.

  11. Brad Warthen

    And Doug, I know you’re not convinced. And you argue your case well. But I’m not convinced, either.

    My problem is that in a representative democracy, I think we should be allowed to vote for whomever we want — even if it’s a 10-year incumbent.

  12. Bart

    No matter which side you voted for in the last election, the impact of a very well financed campaign and one not so well financed was placed before us as an object lesson, that is, if we were paying attention.

    At some point before time to sign on the dotted line to accept public financing, Obama and McCain agreed to accept the limitations of public financing. McCain signed, Obama did not. McCain had about 1/3, if that much, in funding than Obama did. Of course, this was, after all, McCain’s dream or fantasy, pick your own, of leveling the playing field on campaign financing. From the very beginning, Obama outsmarted McCain on the most important issue of campaigning, financing and contributions.

    The internet apparatus set up by Obama vs the hand-crank telephone, “Is this the party to who I am speaking”, one by McCain reaped amost $1 billion in contributions. Republicans can like it or not, but Obama’s campaign outsmarted, outgunned, and outmaneuvered McCain at every turn. Why? Because he had the financial strength, McCain didn’t.

    So, in real terms, does it really matter to any candidate where funds come from and why, as long as they are legal? I think not.

  13. sallizar

    Curse this new polite rational discussing! Now I have to reconsider my views on term limits. I’ve always thought they were a great idea, but mostly because I wanted the incumbent bum out. If everyone one else wants the bum in for the rest of their natural life though who am I to demand that they arbitrarily kick them out. Dang it! Brain aneurism! I’m off to research the effectiveness of term limits now.

  14. Greg Flowers

    The plain and simple fact is that when you allow (virtually) all citizens to vote you are going to have a lot of people voting for candidates for stupid reasons. We just need to accept that. I’m not saying that its right or wrong just that it is de rerum natura. How often does the better looking candidate win? The only way to remedy the current situation of widespread voter ignorance is to limit the electorate which has its own set of problems.

    I think that all voters should be able to vote for whomever they please and to support them financially to the extent they are willing and able. The latter seems to me to be covered as a part of the right of free speech.

  15. Brad Warthen

    Yeah, these dopey media campaigns that require raising these huge warchests are actually an unfortunate side effect of universal suffrage.

    If one had to have a little bit on the ball to vote, it wouldn’t be as easy as it is to reach for the lowest common denominator and actually get elected. But how would we bring that about?

    Besides, anyone who’s spent time in the blogosphere knows that just because someone is intelligent or well-read doesn’t mean they’re going to have the same idea as you of what constitutes an intelligent campaign. Problem is, lots of smart folks who keep up with current affairs JUST DON’T THINK RIGHT — or so it seems. It’s a corollary of the “different strokes” cliche.

  16. Greg Flowers

    I think two very positive things were having to go to the county registration office to register to vote and having to stand in line for a reasonable period of time. Most people do not seem to realize that participation in the process is not so much a right or a responsibility, one that needs to be taken seriously.
    One disagreeing with me is not a problem so long as they have weighed the issues and not based their opinion on personal appearance, sound bites and party affiliation. The temptation is to annually give a current events/ civics test to all who wish to vote to establish a level of minimum competence (questions like: who is the president; what are the three branches of government). This would encourage people to learn about their government. Classes could be offered to help them educate themselves in this all important area. Why would this be a bad idea?

  17. Greg Flowers

    Perhaps expect the same level of knowledge regarding government as we expect of an alien becoming a US citizen.

  18. kbfenner

    Uh, did I just become the new Lee? A flyover commentator? Freakonomics? Double regression analysis?

  19. Greg Flowers

    But this would be a very basic test the intent of which would not be so much to weed people out as to encourage them to educate themselves to the extent that their vote would be based on some rational basis. If you don’t like tests give me some other method for limiting the privilege of voting to those willing to consider the matters at hand. While I am not advocating this, limiting the vote to property owners was probably a good surrogate for a test.

    Anybody, what is the best way to ensure that those participating in the electoral process make a thoughtful informed decision.

    And Kathryn, I am now expecting you to declare (over and over again) that 87 members of Congress are or have been fascists and that Bobby Jindal was really born in Bhutan.

  20. Randy E

    Bart, that’s a mischaracterization of what happened between Obama and McCain.

    First, Obama agreed to negotiate the finance parameters. Second, McCain was spending private money for weeks after he effectively wrapped up the GOP nomination. His integrity regarding the pledge came into play after betraying the pledge with this spending. Third, the republican national committee had a huge financial advantage which could be spent in support of McCain.

  21. Brad Warthen

    How do y’all remember all those details? I just remember Obama had boatloads of money. I think I stopped counting at $700 million or so.

    Greg, you and I are on similar tracks of thought. I resist early voting and other ways of lowering the bar, because I don’t think enough people take voting seriously as things are…

  22. Karen McLeod

    On the other hand, limiting voting to one day may make it very hard for people who have to work and who have families they have to get home to care for, while early voting lets a person pick a day that works best for him/her. I also am concerned that not all who vote have any real understanding of the politics and/or actual issues involved. A ‘test taker’ may be able to name the traditional fallicies; anyone who votes should at least be able to identify as fallacies when she/he sees them.

  23. kbfenner

    and Greg–
    Bobby Jindal is clearly animatronic. State of the Union Response—this is Mumbai’s finest programming!

    The people who vote under the current system are not necessarily any better informed. They are the elderly, the fired-up single issue voters, etc. as well as those of us who actually know who comprises the Budget and Control Board.

  24. kbfenner

    I meant that to refer to the outsourcing of IT to the subcontinent and not any slur to Mr. Jindal’s ancestry. Whoops.

  25. Bart

    I will apologize up front for the long response to Randy.

    There was no “mischaracterization” of events.

    On a September 2007 questionnaire from the Midwest Democracy Network, one of the questions was, “If you are nominated for President in 2008 and your major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign, will you participate in the presidential public financing system?”

    Obama DID highlight “Yes” on the agreement with the following comments. “I have been a long-time advocate for public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time as a way to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests….My plan requires both major party candidates to agree on a fundraising truce, return excess money from donors, and stay within the public financing system for the general election…If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election.”

    Obama reiterated his intent to “sit down with John McCain and make sure that we have a system that works for everybody.” during an interview with Tim Russert in February, 2008.

    McCain secured the Republican nomination on March 3, 2008; Obama secured the Democrat nomination on June 4, 2008. There was one meeting – between attorneys – for 40 minutes on June 6, 2008. Obama and McCain never sat down face to face either.

    McCain and Obama refused to accept public funds or spending limits during the “primary campaign” that runs until the conventions when each candidate is officially nominated. On June 17, 2008, when Obama announced he was not going to accept public financing, he made comments about the system being broken and how he had to fight the PACs that were influencing Republicans with so much cash.

    After some fact checking by several news outlets, including the NYT, the truth was revealed. Less than 1.7% of funds received by McCain or the RNC come from PACs. Another inconvenient fact is that those receiving PAC money in the election listed in February, 2008, Hillary Clinton had received $5,696,243; Barack Obama, $5,477,750; John McCain, $1,238,126. The only PAC that contributed more to McCain that Obama was the defense industry. The leader in all categories was Hillary Clinton.

    Obama raised $454 million from the time he announced until nominated, McCain, $240 million. After being nominated, Obama raised another $300 million plus. McCain had $84 million to spend from public financing plus whatever support he could get from the RNC.

    While true the RNC had more funds available than the DNC initially, not all of the money in the RNC coffers was available to McCain, however, all of the money raised by Obama was for his use. Overall, Obama outspent McCain by a 4:1 margin. BEFORE Obama decided against public financing, he had a distinct advantage in campaign contributions and funding. The rest is history.

    All my comments were meant to convey was the hypocrisy by both parties, evidenced by an event taking place today. Obama’s administration and Democrats have been pounding Wall Street with a sledge hammer over greed and attributing a large portion of the responsibility for the collapse of our economy at its feet. Today, Obama is attending a fund raising event for the DNC, where? You guessed it, WALL STREET!! Now, tell me again about integrity.

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