What's the Most Effective Political Donation?
Who knows? I can't find any source that discusses the impact of different donations
I got a text the other day asking me to donate for whoever will be the Democratic candidate in AL-05 because it’s imperative that we take out Mo Brooks. First off, Mo Brooks is no longer a Representative. Second AL-05 is R+15. I might as well light the money on fire for all the good it will do there.
I’m also being asked to continue my donations for Democrats in the Colorado legislature.1 The Democrats now control all state-wide offices and ~70% of both houses of the legislature. Now granted, the Democratic groups in Colorado were effective so unlike the ask for AL-05, this money would move the needle. But of all the issues we Democrats face across the country, is increasing our hold in the Colorado legislature from 70% to 75% the most important issue we face?
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Along with what races should we be focused on, there’s also the question of where should we put the money? The biggest chunk goes into TV, and most of the rest into digital ads. Some of that is likely effective, but it strikes me that a lot of that money goes there for two reasons, first it’s what they’ve always done and so “lather, rinse, repeat…” And second, it easily uses up all the money raised so the fundraising-spend cycle feeds upon itself.
Granted trying to make sense of the results of individual elections and determine what was impactful across various elections is super difficult. The amount of data is small and it’s easy to see what you want in the data. But the point remains, there is very valuable information for someone who knows their stuff to determine what is most impactful.
Instead what I have seen, in the post-mortems I have had access to, is a bunch of self-congratulations (deserved) and a discussion about how they need to continue exactly what they are doing (no, no, no!). Future victory goes to the side always striving to improve.
And there are a million groups out there all claiming they’re got a powerful tool to increase the vote from Vote Forward to Arena. If Arena’s claims are true then they might easily be the most powerful donation possible. If…
So… if anyone knows of an organization that is doing a credible job of determining what campaign efforts are the most effective, and what races are the most impactful, please list them in the comments.
In the Meantime
I’m going to keep looking for what’s effective. I think the most impactful is to help get us Democratic majorities the state legislatures of the battleground states. And to support any efforts to improve the voting process at the state level.
And to put in a plug from my mom (state Representative for 30 years) - if you support a state level candidate, donate directly to them. Yes if you have money left over after the maximum donate to the various PACs supporting them. But start with them because that helps them keep the lights on.
Even easier is what I won’t do. I’ve never donated due to a text or email I receive (both get marked as junk unread) because that’s a horrible way to select what’s effective. I won’t donate to U.S. Senate elections going forward because they receive too much funding.
And I’ll continue to encourage the Democratic operatives I know in Colorado to move to one of the battleground states and work their magic there. Share the success!
In closing, it’s ridiculous that there’s Consumer Reports for cars and appliances, Yelp for restaurants, Capterra for software, and for one of the most important things we spend money on, political campaigns - nothing.
I live in Colorado.