Can We Reduce the Influence of Money in Elections…With More Money?

Feb 10 '12

Chris Blattman:

One fabulously rich person (or a gaggle of them) would put X million dollars into a trust that expires November 9th. X would have to be very large. Probably several hundred million.

The rules would be simple. You could choose a funding cap for all candidates, x, which is much, much smaller than X. Say, $100 million. Plenty of money for a modest number of attack ads, since the parties must have a little fun.

The key: If any one candidate’s super PACs raised more than x, then the trust would automatically release an equivalent amount of funds to the opponent’s super PACs. The trust would be ready to hurl all its money if it must.

So would this work?  Kevin Collins is doubtful:

bq. Unlikely. Requires large donors to care more about election process than outcomes

And most do care about outcomes.  And yet still…couldn’t there be one who cares about process?  That’s all it would take under Chris’s scheme.

Here’s another thought, however.  What would a candidate do in response to this?  Raise money under the cap?  Or just try to raise so much money that they think they can endure having Richie Rich’s trust flow to their opponent?  In other words, perhaps candidates just say, “Okay, Richie’s fund has X.  We’ll raise 3 times X.”  Admittedly, if X is large enough, this strategy may not work.  But when it comes to betting on campaign fundraising, I usually take the over.