Monday, January 30, 2012

Romney Outspends Gingrich By $12 Million In Florida To Win Primary

How do you turnaround a big loss in South Carolina, stop major momentum for your opponent, and win Florida when your opponent leads in national polls? You spend $12 million dollars more on mostly negative ads, ripping apart your opponent. That is what Mitt Romney is doing in Florida to Newt Gingrich, according to Alexander Burn in Romney has spent $15.3 million to Gingrich's $3.3 million in Florida, outspending him 5 to 1. No candidate can win being outspent that badly. Romney is up about 10 points in the latest polling in Florida, though he trails Gingrich in national polls through Friday. Look for the Governor to win tomorrow both the Florida primary and a lifetime political enemy in Gingrich.


  1. You write that "no candidate can win being outspent" by 5 to 1. But as you surely know, there is a lot of scholarly disagreement about how much campaign spending actually influences voters. David Brooks (editorial aside: he is never worth reading) summarized the literature in his October 18, 2010 column and concluded that campaign spending probably doesn't matter much at all. The authors of Freakonomics said the same thing. A more recent and reputable source, John Sides, wrote on the NY Times blog that campaign spending tends to matter only when the electorate is unfamiliar with the candidates, which is certainly not the case here. And Sides added a rebuke to those who (like you in this case) propagate the myth that money wins elections: "The frustration that the focus of 'Moneyball,' Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, felt when listening to his scouts talking about baseball players is the frustration that a political scientist feels when listening to many campaign consultants, journalists and political commentators talk about political advertising. In their telling, campaign ads win elections, and often in dramatic fashion." But Sides went on, this does not appear to actually be the case.

    In truth, money corrupts our system because politicians THINK money is necessary to win. Which means that when they win election they still repay their donors with favorable policies. So, I concede, the fact that money actually seems to be more-or-less irrelevant to who wins doesn't solve anything.

    (Editorial aside: I read and look forward to your blog entries every day - thanks for writing them.)

  2. Great comment. I have read the freakonomics piece and heard it discussed on NPR. You are right to say that the "no candidate" could win statement is strong and possibly hyperbolic. But we now have two cases where Newt Gingrich went from strong poll leads to big losses in a matter of weeks or days. Iowa and Florida. In both cases Gingrich got massively outspent and saw his poll numbers drop day after day as the negative ads slaughtered him. Money alone is not enough to win. Perry, Whitman, and many others prove the point. But you allow massive negative attacks to go unrebutted for any reason--stupidity or no money--you will lose political campaigns nearly always. Lastly Gingrich's experience in Florida is particularly striking because he leads nationally where voters have not seen what happens when he is outspent so severely.