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Hoisted from Comments: Norm Ornstein on Citizens United

- December 17, 2010

From the “comments”:https://themonkeycage.org/2010/12/bleg_what_difference_did_citiz.html#comment-51265 on my “previous post”:https://themonkeycage.org/2010/12/bleg_what_difference_did_citiz.html, here is Norm Ornstein:

bq. John, you should add a focus on candidates’ psychology and behavior. By “flooding the zone” and running ads in far more districts than usual, the outside groups forced many candidates to raise more money than they would have otherwise, which had a “crowding out” effect on other candidates– they were often pursuing the same wealthier donors, who maxed out. And because the groups were often willing to pay absolute top dollar for their ads, it bumped candidates from the most desirable spots and made their messages less potent. More than that, as we look to the future, I can tell you from conversations with a number of incumbents up in 2012, including otherwise safe incumbents, that all now fear a two-front war– a candidate, often not to be deeply feared, and a third force parachuting in with millions to run negative ads. They will all spend far more time raising far more money preemptively, and that means more shakedowns of big donors and more implicit trading of favors for money– in other words, totally contrary to Anthony Kennedy’s naive assertion, a seriously corrupting effect from removing boundaries around independent spending.

This is a good point. The thrust of my post was that people’s worse fears about Citizens United weren’t realized in 2010 (although there are still plenty of reasons why someone might object to the decision). However, there is often a gap between what really happened and what people, and politicians in particular, think happened or anticipate might happen in the future.