For years, reformers have decried the growing amount, and nefarious source of money in campaign. While Citizens United is the focus of most anger, it really was the Buckley Valeo (1976) case that protected campaign spending (so long as it was not tied to quid pro quo corruption) as free speech.
But this campaign is openly challenging the commonly accepted assumption that money talks. The Republican nominee (not yet but typing presumptive each time is just silly at this point) has spent far less money in the primary to gain the nomination and many of long-vanquished foes. Hillary has spent freely, but Bernie has been able (at least until recently) compete with her without the use of PACS and bundlers. His small, but numerous contributions, belie the concerns about millionaires buying elections.
Democrats expect to spend over $1 billion in the fall election. Let me gently remind you that until 2008, the general elections were limited by the acceptance of the Presidential checkoff funds. It was candidate Obama, who reneged on his pledge to limit funds, once he realized that he had a chance to win nomination, but not without spending very large amounts of money. No serious candidate today would handicap their campaign by accepting those funds with those limits.
But will this campaign turn those truisms on their head? Will the celebrity of Trump, which earns him literally hundreds of millions of dollars in free coverage, overwhelm the PAC spending? Is there a diminishing return on spending on negative campaigns? At some point, does reliance on the Koch brothers or Tom Steyer become a disadvantage?
If there is such a year, this might be it. With the exception of spending to Get Out The Vote, gas for drivers, calls, and on the ground knock on the door work of volunteers, is traditional advertising transforming into a very different kind of fungible good, overwhelmed by non-traditional sources of media impact?
Which leads to the real question, for 2014 and beyond. When will the ticket of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie appear on the ballots of Americans?
I just witnessed the AP announce that Trump had secured the delegates sufficient to become the Republican nominee. And Hillary, once again exposed by the State Department IG report to have repeatedly lied about her private server and email practices, is facing a very strong challenge by Bernie in California. You all are actually relevant again. Miracles do happen.