The critics are unmoved. They claim the harm done by negative ads paid for by out-of-staters with unclear motives outweighs any temporary economic boost. Just look, they cry, at how it changed the nature of the Senate race.
Except it didn't.
Poor Angus King, the independent frontrunner, had to endure months of attacks on his character, both warranted and not. But millions of bucks later, King emerged the winner with just about the same percentage of the vote he pulled in the first poll taken after the June primary.
That's right, all that money changed almost no one's mind.
The same was true in the congressional races, in the fight for marriage equality and in the vast majority of legislative contests. While much was made of the $450,000 in outside spending in Senate District 32 in Bangor, the election-day result was essentially the same as what both parties' early internal polls showed. A similar pattern emerged in most other hotly contested districts.
There are sensible changes that could be made to campaign finance laws to promote full disclosure of donors to nonprofits, such as the US Chamber of Commerce, or to third-party contributors, such as the National Organization for Marriage or labor unions. But efforts to restrict spending by corporations, rich people, PACs, or any other entity you don't happen to like amount to little more than losers venting their frustrations.
Because no statute or constitutional amendment was going to save John Martin from himself.
Contribute your thoughts by emailing me at email@example.com.
: Talking Politics
, Poland, Portland Press Herald, John Martin, More