Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Connecticut Senate Race to Be Laboratory Test for the Presence of Money in a Campaign

Can $100 million Propel an Unpopular and Flawed Candidate Into Office

No one should be less likely to win an election for the United States Senate than Connecticut Republican Linda McMahon.  Connecticut is a solidly Democratic state.  Ms. McMahon has never held political office of any kind.  She and her husband own a sleazy professional wrestling organization, one whose entertainment values focus on violence, particularly violence against women.  In 2010, a great Republican year Ms. McMahon lost by 12 points in a Senate race.

But the 2012 Senate race in Connecticut is considered a tossup, and one that Ms. McMahon could very well win.  How can this be?  The answer to that question is a simple invocation of what we call the “universal answer”.  It’s because of the money.

Between her 2010 campaign against Richard Blumenthal and the current race, she has spent more personal wealth — about $70 million — to win a Senate seat than anyone in history. 

Her opponent has almost no funds, and now has to rely on the Democratic party to help out.  They are, but not with much.

Ms. McMahon’s aggressive campaign, and polls showing a tight race, led the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which had hoped to avoid spending money in Connecticut, to make two purchases of advertising, $320,000 each, this month. Democrats also brought in a new press person for Mr. Murphy’s campaign, and the campaign changed advertising companies.

The good news, if there is any is this.

Ms. McMahon has outspent Mr. Murphy and Democratic groups on television advertising by about five to one. But Senator Blumenthal said the Murphy campaign did not have to match her spending.

“He won’t need the tens of millions his opponent will spend,” Mr. Blumenthal said. “All he needs is enough to set the record straight.”

So an interesting experiment is taking place.  Can unlimited funds propel an unqualified but extremely wealthy person into the Senate?  The betting here is yes.

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