Conservatives and Fundraising: A Psychoanalysis
If you read enough coverage like today’s Politico piece on how much conservative groups plan to spend in 2012, you quickly realize the Obama campaign faces a deep psychological problem in addition to a financial one. The Politico headline is that outside groups will spend $1 billion on top of the billion or so Mitt Romney and the RNC will have at their disposal. But the more interesting revelation is that conservatives are perfectly comfortable talking about the amount of money they’re deploying—they’re prone to overstating it if anything—while liberals are deeply uncomfortable talking about such sums and prone to understating them.
The reasons for this are both philosophical and practical. Conservatives think spending money to influence elections isn’t just legitimate but honorable. If you’ve made a lot of money yourself, it’s a reflection of your moral status. Spending part of your fortune to defend the economic system that helped you make it is therefore entirely just.
Conservatives also argue that the ability to attract big donors is a reflection of a candidate’s worth—after all, it means morally worthy people are investing in his or her cause. In general, when a candidate raises a lot of money, rich conservatives are more inclined to give that candidate money. That’s both because the candidate has become worthier in their eyes, and because the candidate with more money tends to win. Since it pays to have friends in power, donating to a candidate who’s already raised a lot of money is a solid investment.