There's been a lot of talk in the last couple of years about the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision of January 2010, which unleashed the flood of unlimited billionaire money funding SuperPacs and other secretive groups attempting to influence elections. This year has been the first full election cycle —and the first presidential election — that that money has been free to try to buy elections.
So how successful were these groups?
It turns out not very. Maybe you've seen the news stories in the last week about all the recriminations from the right directed at Karl Rove, who was supposedly both the face of and the genius behind organizing this flood of money for maximum impact. In state after state, in Senate race after Senate race, this money he directed came up empty. We saw it in Ohio: not even a massively funded campaign paid for by god only knows who was able to elect an inferior candidate like josh "The Empty Suit" Mandel. Only in Nevada were Rove's benefactors able to send a candidate to the senate.
The Sunshine Foundation has published a fascinating breakdown of who spent what on what races, and the success percentages each had.
I'm especially fascinated by the fact that the NRA's $10 million has so little impact. One of its PACs had a less than 1% success rate. Yet candidates treat the NRA like a big fearsome monster that cannot be crossed. It looks more like a paper tiger now, making itself feel more manly by waving guns around, just like some of its members.
On the opposite end, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund had an almost 98% success rate in electing the candidates it backed, a message clearly going unheard by Ohio's state legislators. But seeing this led me to wonder if there isn't a motive behind the message similar to union-busting SB 5.
On the surface, that was about breaking union power to negotiate for its members. But underneath, it was also about destroying the political power of unions and their ability to put resources behind labor-friendly candidates.
It's clear that legislative neanderthals like Lynn Wachtmann and Lou Blessing really could not care less about the fate of the "pre-born." If they truly did, they'd be enthusiastically backing Nickie Antonio's Ohio Prevention First bill that would genuinely reduce the number of abortions in Ohio. But we know that it's really about punishing women who have the misfortune not to be affluent.
One also has to wonder if they think this action can also cripple the political influence of Planned Parenthood. But the experience of the last year should warn them that's not likely, and that their actions will have blowback from women enraged by the attacks on their right to choose, by pompous posturing from Catholic bishops about the evils of contraception, by callous and ignorant comments by Republican politicians about rape, and by the rank stupidity of the Susan G. Komen Foundation in joining the abortion debate.
It's the response to the latter that demonstrates the kind of blowback that could occur from the current actions of our legislature. We all know who got the best of that situation — and it wasn't Komen. Look for Republicans to be swept out of statewide office in 2014 if they stay this particular course. And it's not likely that a flood of secret money can save them.
The Ohio Democratic Party has a tool you can use to contact Governor Kasich and the GOP members of the health and aging committee who all voted for this heinous bill yesterday: