A candidate’s ideas matter much more than donations

Author: Roger Hudson - July 19, 2017 - Updated: July 19, 2017

Roger Hudson
Roger Hudson

Tis the season, right?

Political campaigns this week are releasing — sometimes trumpeting — their fundraising numbers for the last quarter. Some candidates are waiting to the very last moment to expose the sensitive internal financial workings of their campaign. Standing naked, candidates show all to their opponents, donors and of course the critics.

Painful? Sometimes. Humbling? Almost always.

Which candidate raised the most money? How much cash does so and so have on hand? Were the donations from individuals? PAC money? How big a check did the candidate throw into his or her own campaign?

Outside of the purely legal aspect of keeping campaigns honest and above-board, this political voyeurism of finance reporting is really only interesting to a tiny political universe. I’ve never heard a constituent say they were voting for a candidate because that candidate out-raised the opponent. Let’s face it, political consultants may care but the only checkbook the average Colorado voter cares about is their own.

So why is so much attention paid to a financial horse race that no voter is actually watching or even cares about? Pretty good question, aye?

Campaign donations matter only as a means to an end. That’s it. Nothing additional. A candidate’s ideas matter much more than donations, don’t they? Yes, a candidate will need money to carry their message to Colorado voters, especially in a state-wide race. They’ll need gas money to get them to the Western Slope. But cash doesn’t equal ideas. Donations — no matter how large — don’t guarantee election wins.

Take for instance the last presidential race. The Trump campaign raised about $340 million in the course of the primary and general election. That included a hefty $66 million check the billionaire wrote to himself. Meanwhile, the well-oiled Clinton political machine shook the left-leaning trees to rake in more than $580 million.

We all know how that turned out and who’s set up shop in the Oval Office for the next three years or so. If out-raising her opponent by almost a quarter of a billion dollars couldn’t save Hillary Clinton from becoming a footnote, can’t we stop drooling over large checks written by the donor class?

So, when you read quotes this week from campaigns celebrating their fundraising efforts or degrading that of their opponents, ask yourself: How can politicians in one breath denounce the need for large pots of political cash and in the next brag about the “winning” amount they raised?

No wonder voters are suspicious and frustrated with politics and politicians.

Roger Hudson

Roger Hudson

As a Republican political consultant, Roger currently owns and operates The Hudson Firm. He has worked as a journalist and news director for more than 20 years. He has also served as spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Corrections, the attorney general of Colorado and the Colorado Republican Party.