Funny thing, the 2016 election. The candidate complaining about the influence of money in politics is outspending his opponent by huge margins. Yes, it’s money from small donors, but it’s still a very traditional approach to campaigning: swamp your rival with money.
The truly principled position would have been for Bernie to participate in the public financing system. He faced that question during a debate and acknowledged the point: “Your point is well taken. I believe in public funding of elections, absolutely. But this system is — I don’t know if the secretary would agree — is currently very antiquated and no longer applies to modern day politics.”
Translation: I’d do the principled thing, but it wouldn’t be smart politically.
Here is the breakdown of spending in the first three states:
According to data from the ad tracking firm Kantar/CMAG, the Sanders campaign has purchased more broadcast television ad spots than the Clinton campaign during every week since mid-November. Oren Shur, the Clinton campaign’s paid media director, referred to a new Sanders ad that criticizes Democrats who say “it’s okay to take millions from big banks and then tell them what to do.” The Clinton campaign has called it an attack ad, despite Sanders’s pledge to never air a negative ad.
Bernie Sanders’ campaign has transformed into a spending juggernaut, blowing out Hillary Clinton on the television airwaves in New Hampshire. The Vermont senator has outspent her here by a margin of more than 3-to-1 in television ads.
Sanders has spent twice as much on television ads — $2.93 million compared to $1.46 million for Clinton, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
And then there’s this, from the New York Times:
Senator Bernie Sanders rarely passed up a chance to bash the rising tide of money in politics, a system he said on Tuesday was “corrupt and undermining American democracy.” At many of these stops, he was accompanied by members of National Nurses United. The union’s “super PAC” has spent close to $1 million on ads and other support for Mr. Sanders, the Democratic presidential candidate who has inspired liberal voters with his calls to eradicate such outside groups. In fact, more super PAC money has been spent so far in express support of Mr. Sanders than for either of his Democratic rivals, including Hillary Clinton, according to Federal Election Commission records.
None of this is meant to disparage Bernie for trying to win, but when his campaign is premised on impugning the character of his opponent with a Wall Street Dog Whistle, when he’s spending vast amounts of money on traditional TV ads, when Democratic turnout is down even as he claims he’s leading a revolution, then he shouldn’t be questioning Hillary’s authenticity.
Oh, and guess which of the two candidates is raising millions for down-ballot races? If you guessed Hillary, you guessed right.
UPDATE: Hillary has caught up in Nevada.