Where the money comes from

Nice piece in the Atlantic highlighting five charts that show how big money is increasingly influencing politics.  The title is, “How Big Money Created the Most Polarized Congress in a Century: 5 Charts”  which I think anybody who’s even taken a class on political parties should be able to debunk (i.e., while big money may be a contributing factor in no way is it the chief causal driver of a polarized Congress), the charts are still quite illustrative.  I like this one the best:

PAC whos.png

This is all in 2012 dollars.  A little explanation:

The trend from 1978 to 2012 is pretty astounding: PACs gave just $34.1 million to candidates at the start of that span, compared to $425.5 million in 2012. But the PAC data also tells a story about who’s gaining and who’s losing power in contemporary America. Look at what labor PACs spend back in 1978 — more than corporate groups, and nearly as much as trade groups. Since then, all three groups have grown, but while unions’ share has remained surprisingly flat since 1996 or so, trade groups and especially corporate PACs have far outpaced them:

Short version– corporate and trade group spending has come to completely dominate outside funding in elections.  And you better believe that has consequences for whom are politicians listen to.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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