Thoughts On The Edwards Financing Decision

by: Chris Bowers

Fri Sep 28, 2007 at 13:36

As I am sure you have already heard by now, John Edwards has decided to accept public financing for the 2008 primary campaign. Even though I am now just about the last person in the blogosphere to comment on it due to my travels, I wanted to throw out some quick thoughts:
  1. Considering that his campaign has only spent $23,000 on paid advertising in Iowa, it would appear that this is a decision the campaign was considering for a long time. Public funds result in a cap on Iowa spending on paid media and, in the event that they did decide to accept public funds, the campaign probably did not want to start reducing their available paid advertising balance early on.

  2. This is an extremely surprising move given Edwards consistent position on Dailykos straw polls. Edwards receives something like 10,000 votes in each of those polls. Clearly, not only is there a lot of stuffing taking place, but much of his support in those polls is not hard enough to translate into a similar amount of donors from the site. I think that might be the case for the supporters of many candidates online right now: there is a lot of soft support that isn't translating into a massive amount of donations (or, at least as massive as one would expect after over 2,000,000 people donated to Kerry in 2004). Perhaps donors are just waiting for the general election.

  3. Just how bad is his fundraising going to be this quarter? If he is taking public funds now, he must have raised very little this quarter. As of June 30th, he had already raised over $23M, meaning that he didn't have far to go before maxing out on fundraising for someone who was accepting matching funds.

  4. I have to agree with Jonathan Singer that this move means an Edwards nomination makes the 2008 campaign more difficult for Democrats. Still, it might not be a huge disaster. The Edwards campaign can still spend an unlimited amount of field, for example, and also will only accept public financing for the general election of the Republican candidate does as well. Also, this will mean less money and campaign time spent trying to raise money, and it means that activists can engage with the campaign in different--and perhaps ore useful--ways (imagine, for example, emails that talk more about issues than money). Also, money can still be used for the campaign by the DNC, 527s, and outside groups. Down ticket candidates might see a fundraising boon as a result, too.

  5. As far as electability goes, this ends that argument for Edwards in the primary. Considering that Hillary Clinton outperforms Barack Obama in national trial heats against Romney, Thompson and Giuliani, it is becoming really, really, really hard to argue that Hillary Clinton is less electable than other Democrats in the field right now.

I know there are a decent amount of Edwards supporters here at Open Left. In the comments, I'd like to know how this move impacts your thoughts on the race in particular.

Chris Bowers :: Thoughts On The Edwards Financing Decision

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Principles (4.00 / 2)
No mention of how accepting public financing helps JE distinguish himself from his monied rivals, and reinforce his effort to portray HC as the candiate of Washington Lobbyists? Seems like relevant issues to the horserace...

Ultimately, horserace aside, progressives should applaud a candidate who is willing to take a risk in favor of limiting money in politics and in favor of public financing of elections. I haven't given to JE this cycle, but I may look into tossing him a $20 before Sunday.

I watched his appearance on MTV yesterday, and thought he was great. Judging by all the green in the MySpace polling pie, other viewers thought so too.

Check out Future Roots for organic rock'n'roll goodness from Oregon...

Principles (4.00 / 3)
I would have accepted it as a principled stand had he done this from the start. But to decide to do it know throws questions on how principled it is, I think.

[ Parent ]
Does it? I don't think so (0.00 / 0)
Edwards had self-imposed limitations on the money he would except.  He has raised huge amounts of money by any previous standard, but others ARE raising more, but use different criteria.  I'd say his taking the money now is an excellent strategy in that he left his campaign flexible.  I think he finally look at he situation and decided he needed to have some more money to compete, but wasn't willing to sell his soul for it. 

This is both a practical and a principled stand. 

From a strategy standpoint this is perfect timing. 

From a principled stand he has kept his criteria clean. 

I'm with bruh, that the rationalization of the bloggers is quite amazing. 

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[ Parent ]
Yet you make the point above (0.00 / 0)
that the Iowa spending indicates the decision was planned for some time.  If that's the case, why the reluctance to believe Edwards is doing this for principled reasons?  Wouldn't that be the simplest and most consistent explanation -- especially given the campaign Edwards has been running against lobbyists and the corrupting influence of money on our politics?

John McCain doesn't think kids need health insurance

[ Parent ]
Chris - (0.00 / 0)
how principled is it to lure potential supporters with gimmicky videos - i.e. Obama Girl, Mafia - rather than specific and comprehensive plans and solutions?
Yeah - sex and the Sopranos $ell - according to the candidates' PR and marketing strategists.  No need to tell supporters who you REALLY are. Just let them think you opposed the war when you couldn't vote - and have opposed every war funding bill and supported timetables since elected to the Senate.
No need to tell supporters your chief strategist is a union buster while you're wooing the union vote.
It's the money that counts - not how you get it!

[ Parent ]
Im More Concerned About the Effect on Democratic Race (4.00 / 1)
As an Edwards supporter, I am more worried about what this decision means for the nomination fight then I am concerned about the general.  Edwards will be grossly outspent in Iowa because he will have to obey the state limits and both Clinton and Obama will spend several times that.  If he wins in Iowa, I worry about Super Tuesday.  If Obama and/or Clinton budget their funds right, they should have around 30 million or so for that election day alone (assuming they both raise about 30 million in the 3rd and 4th quarters).  Even with all that, I think Edwards can prevail.  Still, one hates to be outspent like that.

I worry less about the general.  Partly, this is true for the reasons you cite.  Also, I think the Rs are very likely to have a long nomination race.  I know this has not happened for awhile, but considering the candidates I think the only one who "could" run the table for a quick win is Huckelbee.  If he comes in a close second in Iowa and wins against a divided "moderate" field in NH, he would probably generate enough momentum to win it all on Super Tuesday.  But anything less then that is going to result in a conservative candidate (the winner of the Huckelbee-Thompson race in SC, probably Huckelby) vs eea "moderate conservative" (either Guliani, Romney or McCain, probably Romney).  Because Super Tuesday has both large industrial and relatively moderate states and southern conservative ones, I think the far right vs. less far right show down will probably last until the convention.  So. . .no time for the Rs to attack Edwards.

I take exception to a couple of your conclusions. (4.00 / 1)
1. That there is obvious stuffing going on in the polls at Dkos in favor of Edwards.  Stuffing became obvious in the summer and kos had this conclusion.
I'm going to go ahead and post the "official" results. The numbers will change (the Obama people are best at delivering votes to the poll)
kos cut short the poll to avoid the freeping and the result is consistent at around 40% for Edwards over several months.

2.  I don't think the electability arguments change at all for Edwards.  The state by state polls still show he does best.  And I still think he has the best coattails for Democrats downticket.

3.  I totally disagree with Singer about the 2008 Democratic  campaign being more difficult.  Only if piles of money is the way to win.  There are lots of ways of ensuring sufficient resources.  I think that the creativity and out of box thinking of the Edwards campaign is phenomenal, especially with people even in the netroots to fearful to acknowledge it. 

I think this move is a brilliant strategic move on Edwards part.  I agree with your observation that he has been considering it for quite a while and thus has spent little on advertising in Iowa and NH to date. 

Edwards is really running the campaign he wants from principle combined with some practical tactics.  He hates the DC lobbyist influence on government that is clear.  He indicated before he would like public financing but didn't want to disadvantage himself.  I am relieved that he is not willing to sell his soul for money.  He is at his best campaigning with people. 

Edwards fundraising is excellent except in comparison to ridiculous if not obscene amounts being raised by Clinton and Obama.  I have greater concerns as to how bought Clinton is given her Iran vote.  I think Obama would like to change the political game but he has been caught up in a bigger version of the money game and isn't clear how to deal with it. 

However Edwards just changed the money agenda.  Now getting huge amounts of money is not something to celebrate in quite the gleeful terms as people were doing before.  It is being scrutinized in new ways.  And I know that he will be attacked on this issue to show he is a hypocrite as soon as the FEC filings are public.

The question is what do we want in a president?  I don't want the sellout game that the Clintons and Bushes brought us.  They are now buddies.  It just makes me crazy that Democrats cannot see it, or can rationalize this away. 

However Edwards supporters are quite loyal and believe in his campaign.  I wish A-list bloggers could also evaluate his strategy from the positive angles whether they choose to endorse or not. 

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I also take note that (4.00 / 2)
chris and others absolutely do not care from where Clinton is raising money. If they did, I would like to see them post on it. The notion that we can all be 'progressive' one week by saying no to Fox News and by proxy its owner Murdock, but in the next say its okay for Clinton to receive direct contribution from him- is mixed signals to say the least. the idea that no one has a problem with a system that requires Clinton to raise money from the healthcare lobby while talking in the next breathe about healthcare reform should bother progressives.  progressive values, seems to be increasely an act of faith on the part of anyone paying attention. to conflictiing behavior.

[ Parent ]
DNC/527 money shift assumption is wrong (4.00 / 1)
The assumption that small donors are automatically and painlessly going to be redirected to donate to 527's and the DNC is wrong. The vast majority of voters don't think like political junkies. Most don't even know about 527s. The DNC's fundraising to date hasn't been something to crow about - their outreach and branding hasn't translated into a formidable donor base. And 527 and the DNC are limited in what they can advocate, unlike the nominee who is free to frame any debate on their own terms. Its a huge risk not a small risk.
Having a candidate donors can donate to directly makes a whole lot of difference.

The 527 Group Had Very Little Money That Went After Kerry (0.00 / 0)
You don't need a lot of money to win, just a good organization. I think JRE has a very good straegy when it comes to spending their money.  I am not going to vote based on the money race, but who will be the best leader for americans, and it ain't Hillary or Obama. 

[ Parent ]
Actually I find this more instructive about the A bloggers (4.00 / 6)
As I said over mydd , I think he's doing this because he can't raise money, but thats not what I am learning from this. From this I am learning blogs are centrally (that is my euphemism for "only") focused on who can win. Period. End of story. You talk a good game, but when push has come to shove, on issue after issue, you are just not that far away from those in DC. In fact, who you choose to be against are easy targets rather than ones that will cost you capital. Your position is fine, but-for here in 2007, with the win from last year, it would seem the lesson is that winning istn't enough. I see posts about the need on several A list blog to win not just a majority now, but a super majority. If you can't use a majority to get what you want now when the GOP could, I don't have faith a super majority will matter especially looking at the map of the districts you hope to win. If who we elected are willing by a sizeable numbers to do un progressive things, I am not convinced of my party's ability to lead anymore. It is with that back drop that I looked at Edwards. I still will support him. But I realized its not just the GOP but the culture of politics in this country that is the centralized problems. I love when people say " we should take money out of politics" but when someone does the reaction is- he's a loser. Maybe he is. Maybe he's a hypocrite too. Probably is. But what I also know is that so are many of the A list bloggers with regard to the overall system. That's sad.

Bruh, I think you are a kindred spirit (4.00 / 1)
I wondered where the 60's and 70's reforming spirit went, then I thought it was coming back in the 00's.  It is and there are more progressies than before, but not as many as we need.

Have you read Spiral Dynamics by Don Beck and Chris Cowen.  Some fascinating models of the evolution of society there.  I did a diary at Dkos and at JRE's blog on this topic but it was still too much jargon.  More response at JRE's blog.  Our culture is more primitive than we like to think.

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[ Parent ]
No (0.00 / 0)
I have to be honest. I am somewhat moving on in my life now beyond politics. This was - the blogs- the last straw for me. If this little experiment didn't work, I made a promise to myself I would strictly focus on personal endeavors. I am seriously moving toward becoming apolitical.

[ Parent ]
Not sure of your answer (4.00 / 1)
and its meaning.  But I still recommend Spiral Dynamics and to explore or not. 

I am waiting to see what happens with the Edwards nomination before I withdraw, but I know somewhat how you feel.

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[ Parent ]
Smartest plan not most money will win (0.00 / 0)
Gore beat Bush in the popular vote, Bush outspent 2-1

Bush beat Kerry in the popular vote, money essentially equal

The knife fights and cheating are a different story.

There's only so much money to go around and it always seems that every contributor wants to get the best bang for their buck, namely back the percieved winner. 
The GOP and their vicious front groups can't be trusted but money alone won't necessarily stop them.  The swift boat attack was done with relatively little money but was amplified by colluding by the traditional media.  Was it money that was needed through TV advertising to respond to this?  I think not, it needed a sharp strategic response which came far too late.
Too dangerous kos?  I don't know the definition anymore.  The Bush diasters have bent time and space, thier willful ignorance of global climate change could leave my children with an ominous future.  But to embrace a system that has seen spending explode from $300million in 2000 to $1Billion in 2008 is also embracing insanity. 

I posted at JRE's website saying I give this idea my tepid support.  I urge them to have a rock solid plan.  But nor do I trust that Hillary or Obama's bigger fundraising will deliver much more of an advantage.  Hillary's burn rate is very, very high yet delivering good national numbers.  Obama's fundraising is great yet this has not (yet) translated into winning poll numbers.  Both could find themselves low on money after the primaries and although no constricted by caps, finding that their(our) supporters are tapped.

KOS, the smartest plan will win NOT the most money.  I think what is too dangerous is to make the wrong choice for the wrong reasons. 
America went into Iraq for all the wrong reasons, didn't have a smart plan to deal with it, have spent a hell of alot of money to go nowhere.  I know this is mixing apples and oranges but I believe my point is the same. 
Only the smartest plan will win NOT the most money. 

I'm not committed to Edwards (0.00 / 0)
but I saw Trippi speak a week or two before he joined Edwards' team.  When asked what it would take for him to sign on with a candidate, he said that he would need someone who would move beyond transactional to transformational politics, and seemed particularly disgusted with the way fundraising worked for Presidentials.  I see this as Trippi's influence, and actually (I know, I know) think it should be viewed not as crassly political, but as them sincerely trying to build a campaign true to its own principles, and therefore positioned to actually lead.

I support John McCain because children are too healthy anyway.

Well but bloggers believe in those principles too (4.00 / 1)
unless of course it gets in the way of winning, and then in which case not so much.

[ Parent ]
Which it wouldn't if (4.00 / 1)
they would all go for it.  We would win.

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[ Parent ]
Edward's strategy (4.00 / 2)
I'm really surprised at Chris, and Kos, and Jonathan Singer on this.  They are not thinking this through from a strategic conception, they just have a knee jerk reaction which sort of reminds me of inside the Beltwayism.  It is all about money - and in the end the Republicans will have more money (the rich will not give up their tax cuts easily). 

Here is why I think John Edwards' decision is brilliant based on his strategy.  I think he is going to win Iowa and I believe he thinks he is going to win Iowa.  I think people are really underestimating the power of the internet in this election because they were disappointed in its impact in the last election.  But the internet is a dramatically different tool now.  I have two words to pack this up - Ron Paul.  How well Paul did at the Iowa straw poll was extraordinary.  Republicans knew this was coming a few days in advance and they tried to limit the impact by saying his supporters were closer (actually they were farther away than most other candidates).  Huckabee was the media story, but Paul's third place finish was what everybody should have been talking about.  Paul did so well because he was the best organized on the internet, no other possible explanation.  The candidate strongest on the internet will win the Iowa caucus - and that is John Edwards.

Edwards' big problem is New Hampshire.  Iowa will give him a bump but Clinton is pulling away in New Hampshire and nothing is stopping her momentum.  I think Edwards now believes he does not really have to worry about Obama - he was always going to fade.  But he rightly worries about the Clinton firewall in New Hampshire.  As Chris Bowers has shown Iowa will give you a certain bump in New Hampshire, but not enough for Edwards right now.  So Edwards needs to stop Clinton's momentum in New Hampshire, but how. 

Now I think Edwards has been considering doing public financing for a while I think - it goes along with his arguments about lobbyists.  But Edwards is a Pragmatist, he had to be sure his gambit would work.  How does he know it will work - because he is looking where others are not.  Since McCain went to public financing he has been surging in New Hampshire.  It was especially popular among independents.  It fits right in the the cranky, New England character and the natural mistrust of government in New Hampshire.  Watch Edward stymie Clinton's momentum and pick up 7-10 points without spending a cent on advertising.  At the same time it puts Clinton on the defensive, and I don't know how she recovers (unless she also goes for public financing).

If Edwards picks up 10 points in New Hampshire it probably gives him the SEIU endorsement.  He has enough union power to take Nevada.  Obama falls out after New Hampshire and it is between Clinton and Edwards in South Carolina (I put my money on Edwards at this point).  The election is actually over before February 5.  It means a lot of things falling in to place, but an election always means a lot of things falling in to place unless you are the heir apparent.

The idea that Edwards won't have enough money until August is way overblown.  This is going to be a very different type of election where just having money is not going to be enough - you need to be agile and adaptive.  I trust John and Elizabeth Edwards in this environment much more than I trust Mark Penn even with a boatload of money.

Edwards is breaking the paradigm.  Isn't that what we want in a candidate.  Come on Chris, Kos, Jonathan, grow a pair.

Doesn't affect my support for Edwards one bit (4.00 / 2)
I am supporting him because I now he can win the general (just as Obama and Hillary could) and I think he would be by far the best president we could have of the field.

Will he win the nomination?  I hope so.  I don't know.  It's certainly still possible, though it rests in Iowa. 

But I couldn't care less which tactical decisions he makes, or why, as long as they're moral & hopefully affective.  I just want him to win the nomination, so we can go ahead and start worrying about winning the general. 

Remember - (0.00 / 0)
in 2004, Obama stated he absolutely would NOT run for prez in 2008. Then the DC elites - yes, Senate Dems - and corporate media pundits and presstitutes began URGING him to run - and the PR and marketing strategists began calling. They all knew they could create a rockstar media image that would suck supporters and resources from John Edwards and his Progressive message.
Obama knew it too.

I Still Support JRE (0.00 / 0)
He did not take public financing in 2004 democratic primary race.  I have no problem with this.  Whatever it takes to beat Hillary.  Obama is a loser.  He would be the worse candidate against the repugs.  Worse than Kerry was.  He reminds me of Kerry in his brainy looks.  Obama reminds me of a nerdy guy when he talks.  I just don't see average americans relating emotinally with him.  I don't think he has a prayer against Hillary, and If she was to win the nomination she will not make him her VP. Obama should have laid low and let JRE take her out, and maybe JRE would have picked up Obama to be his VP. 

Now, it looks harder for either one to beat her.  But, it is still up to Iowa and New Hampshire.  The rest of the country follow the leader which is hilarious to me.  I am glad there is still independent thinking people out there in the world.  Who cares which candidate has the most money if that candidate is the one that ends up being the one most likely to take us to another war, and keep the US in an illegal occupation in Iraq for years to come.


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