By way of explanation for my lack of posting the last couple of days, I was on a tour of electoral battlegrounds. No, seriously.
Having been to Sioux Falls, Lincoln (NE), Des Moines and Iowa City; read the local newspapers, seen the battle of the lawn signs, and observed reaction to my Run Against Bush t-shirt, I can now make slightly more informed predictions about some electoral races.
I would bet my financial future on Nebraska and South Dakota going Republican in the Electoral College. It will take a much higher mortality rate amongst their National Guard members for Midwestern isolationism to reassert itself. And, there's no isolationist candidate on offer. Oh wait, there is ...
I would put less money, but still some money, on Tom Daschle beating John Thune in the South Dakota Senate race. It would be hard for it to be closer than the squeaker last time, so I'll say Daschle will probably pull it out by 1%-2%. 1% in a small state is not a large number of votes, so the margin for error is small.
I would also put money on Herseth winning (probably more money if there were takers). Daschle is vulnerable to the 'time for a change' sentiment, whereas it's hard to see the voters collectively changing their mind on the decision they made in June to send Herseth to D.C.
Going further south, there is a surprisingly competitive race for the open First District in Nebraska. The Democrat, Matt Connealy is a farmer, and has won the lawn sign (paddock sign, actually) battle in the northeast corner of the state. Whether it'll be enough to overcome 40 years of Republican dominance is an open question. The polls show the Republican, Jeff Fortenberry ahead, and he'll probably win.
Heading east into Iowa, the main game is the Presidential election. If you give me a quarter I'll flip it a few times and try to predict the outcome. None of the Congressional races are close, the Senate race is going to be a blowout for Grassley, and it's a state with cheap media and multiple media markets. The battle for the state house and senate also seems to be hard fought.
One Des Moines area Senate seat (remember, this for a seat in the Iowa Senate) has had a total of $500,000 dumped into the campaign. 3/4 of the ads on the local TV stations seem to be campaign ads, split equally between the presidential race, incumbent Republican congressmen, and a plethora of state legislators.
$500,000. For a little bit of international perspective, the most you can spend on a district race for the New Zealand parliament is $20,000 per campaign. (Districts have about 60,000 people in them in both the Iowa Senate and the New Zealand parliment) Effectively this precludes any TV advertising in New Zealand, with consequent investment in door-knocking, leaflets and town-hall debates. They're spending 8 times as much per voter for a seat in the Iowa Senate!
Even if you allow for Americans being richer and things being more expensive here, my back of the laptop calculation is that they're spending 4 times as much for a seat in the Iowa Senate as a seat in the New Zealand parliament.
With all respect to the good people of Iowa and their Senate, that's absurd. Now, I suspect that you could substitute just about any state for "Iowa", and just about any other Western democracy for "New Zealand" and find that Americans are spending more money to get elected to minor offices than people pay to get elected to national office elsewhere.
You're a rich country, you can probably afford it. Whether it's a good use of the money is questionable. But it's a free country, money is speech, and there's nothing that can be done to change it ...Posted by robe0419 at October 31, 2004 6:59 PM | TrackBack