Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Rumor Gnomes

It’s time for the rumor gnomes again. The Data Port hears that Patty Weiss has launched a second poll. Is this a case of “if at first you don’t succeed?” We’re also hearing that the last campaign’s Democratic hopeful, Eva Bacall, is polling too. A decent poll is not cheap…so much for the “money is not all that important” crowd.

Will we ever know? Probably not if…if, that is, the polls disappoint the candidates. On the other hand if a poll indicates that the candidate is the greatest thing since sliced bread you can bet your buttons we’ll hear about it.

In the interest of full, if meaningless, disclosure no one at The Data Report has been polled.

No rumor here, The Giffords campaign last Friday announced that it had raised $252,900 in five weeks. If cost estimates for this campaign are anywhere near correct that leaves about $1,750,000 to go.

Statistics: 411 donations from Arizona residents; 331 from Southern Arizona; 46 contributions from out of state. The press release reports “232 donations came from working families in amounts of less than $200.” I like that “working families” touch. It’s nice to know that the horny-handed sons of toil support you.

Possibly most important is the fact that at a December 14th “do” at the Congress Hotel more than 300 people pledged time and support to the campaign.

If any of the other campaigns have press releases The Data Port would be happy to have them.


Kralmajales said...
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Art Jacobson said...

Latas has also been a presence in the Starnet Forums, for which he is to be commended.

Kralmajales said...
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Art Jacobson said...

I've been fairly active in Democratic Party activities for the best part of 25 years. Ms Weiss may have voted, or made political donations, but I know of no other political activities.

Professional journalists generally steer clear of political involvements in order to avoid possible charges of bias. So far as I know Ms Weiss has no more practical political experience than Adam's Off Ox.


Kralmajales said...
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sotto voce said...

Dear Data Port...

Nothing to do about polls, but let's focus on the idea that Ms. Gifford's campaign is being fueled by working families. It sounds nice, but is it true?

Ms. Giffords' average campaign donation is about $553, which is far more than a working family can donate. I don't quibble with her raising money but it's a bit disingenuous to create the impression that it is a campaign fueled by working people.

Statistical analysis of prior national campaign (2002) found that less than 1/4 of 1% of American families gave a donation of $200 or more to a national political campaign. And those that did donate $200 or more, fully 20% made over $500,0000 a year, and 60% made over $100,000 a year.

Small money donors have less and less influence. It was a phenomenon when Dean was able to raise as much as he did in his presidential race -- his average donation was about $67.

Based on these statistics, I think it highly unlikely that many poor working families are donating to the Gifford campaign.

It would be wonderful to see one of these Democrats come out and really embrace campaign finance reform.

Until we suck the money out of politics it is going to be more of the same -- politicans selling out to monied interests rather than repesenting the people in their district.

Thanks for listening.

Kralmajales said...
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sotto voce said...


Thanks for your kind comments. I had to really dig around to find those stats. I started at the FEC and other public records, but ended up at the Center for Responsive politics. They have a whole bunch of data on donor demographics (this is just one page). I'm someone who uses data to make a living, so I wanted the facts to back me up. Sort of in my bones.

In truth, Ms. Giffords doesn't know the actual income of the people that give her small donations because that information isn't collected when you donate. It's spin. And it bugged me a little to see it promoted more here, because it isn't factually accurate.

I am not surprised that the average donation is over $500 actually, and I suspect the distribution is bimodal but that isn't of much interest to most folks.

And I don't deny that it takes money to get elected in this day and age, but it does color our politics.

I know you say it is fantasyland, but I am not willing to give up on the idea that we can take money out of politics and I'd like to see someone step forward and commit to persuing political finance reform. As a society we'll only be successful in this sort of major reform if we all speak up about it.

At this stage, I think our nation would benefit more from campaign finance reform that it would from health care reform!

Anonymous said...

Kralmajales said... Does anyone know if Patty Weiss has been involved in the local Democratic Party...or state party to any extent?
I think that this question was answered by Art. However, I had the pleasure of meeting Patty Weiss recently and I was very impressed by her depth of knowledge on issues that I care about and also her willingness to listen.

I suggest that those in doubt give her a call and talk to her directly (I beleive her phone number is on her web page).

As far as the importance of party ties are concerned I agree. I know that Ms. Weiss has been a Democrat her whole life, however, Ms. Giffords was not always a Democrat.


Frank said...

Okay, so only $46,168 came from small donations under $200 (assuming they averaged the high end $199; likely much less than $46 k came from small donations). That means the bulk of her funding is from large donors, likely institutional Dems which is expected. I haven't ruled out Giffords yet, but her answers were weak last night and she needs new ideas and strategies if she is going to be a decent Rep.

wearetribal said...

Excuse me for being blunt, but this whole line about not being able to compete without a huge amount of money is a crock, a big lie repeated over and over by the mainstream media who are doing so in the service of those same big money donors.

Wellstone beat an incumbent with a high approval rating (at the start of the campaign) and ten times as much money. How? Shoe leather. Volunteers. He did a literature drop of 750,000 pieces BY HAND the night before the election. I helped, and the volunteers I was with had not slept in three days.

Democracy just takes hard work. Bitching and moaning about the need to change this or that law is BS. People died for this democracy. The least we can do is get out there and do a little freaking work.

A recent study showed that the empirical result of spending one million dollars on a campaign, on average, is a whole 1% of the vote. Yep. One big damned percent.

The main thing money does is cue these so-called "journalists," who are too lazy to do what Democracy requires of journalists (inform the public about the candidates and issues), and instead write crap about who is "ahead." That is all they do, well, that and pull a crystal ball out of their nether regions and tell us who "can win."

The Weekly recently had the gall to take a pot shot at Weiss and Gabby for focusing on what they themselves focus on to the exclusion of all else, in the "Skinny." Hey Weekly, how about doing your job as journalists in a Democracy or shutting the hell up?

Gabby has more volunteers and got way more petition signitures. That is the only valid basis to determine who is "ahead." But that question should never even be asked. It is corrosive to the very fabric of a Democracy.