Monday, September 24, 2012

Some Political Donation Thoughts

I probably have a couple more campaign contributions in me this year, and I'll be looking into where my money should go over the next couple days. In anticipation of the end of the fundraising reporting period, anyone who's gotten themselves on candidates' email lists is probably going to get a whole bunch of messages over the next couple days, so this might be a useful thing for us to discuss together. The Singapore dollar has gotten a bit strong lately, so this is a good time for me to donate some money.

One general principle that I've heard Jonathan Bernstein suggest, and which I wholeheartedly subscribe to, is that giving money to races that don't get as much coverage is better. This is because the best-known races, like the presidential campaign, attract so much money that they're pushed deep into the territory of diminishing returns. Obama has so much money that an extra hundred dollars is unlikely to win him that many extra votes. Donations at the Senate level can have more of an impact, and if you donate to a House candidate (I'm thinking, especially one in a non-presidential-swing-state where coattail effects are minor) you might get more bang for your buck. And if you know a really good state legislature candidate or something like that, wonderful.

Along those lines, I'd be interested to hear what people have to suggest. It's possible that I'll still be doing the Senate thing, just because it has usually been the major public policy bottleneck and Senators last for 6 years rather than 2, with 4.35 times the voting influence because of the smaller chamber. But if someone has a good House or state legislature candidate to talk up, I'm curious to hear more.

If I could give more to Jeff Merkley's Leadership PAC, which I've talked about at length here and here and here, I'd definitely do so, but I've already hit the $5000 annual maximum. That's really my number one recommendation for anyone who wants to help Democrats win more Senate races, because you get to do it while increasing the influence of a solidly left-wing and tactically smart Democrat within the party. (That's Jeff and me in the picture at right, in a wine cellar in his home state of Oregon.) Moreover, Oregon is a reasonably clean state as far as special interest issues go -- you don't have to worry about Merkley's influence being put to use in support of the coal lobby or even the corn lobby. If you're interested in helping him out, you can donate the money via my ActBlue page. If you have any questions, just ask below or send me an email.  
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