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Do voters care that political candidates brag about how much money they've raised?

Jul 29, 2015

Candidates often publicize how much money they have raised to attract donors and intimidate opponents.
Credit Flickr user Pictures of Money / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Candidates often publicize the amount of money they have raised by including it in press releases or newsletters. But with campaign financing often criticized for it's ability to sway candidates based on who is funding them, why would candidates willingly draw attention to how much they have received?

Joe DiSano of DiSano Strategies in Lansing says these numbers are targeted at potential donors and their opponents, not ordinary voters.

He compares it to the venture capital industry.

"The more money you raise, the more money you attract," DiSano said.

He says it's psychological.

"A lot of it is basic human nature, that folks want to be associated with a winner," he said.

There's also an intimidation factor.

If one candidate can successfully raise more money than the other, it can be an "attempt to break the will of your opponents and publicly force them to admit that they can't keep up on the fundraising end of things."

But could publicizing these numbers hurt candidate's chances with the average voter?

"I think the general assumption is that all politicians, at some level, are bought and paid for," DiSano said.

That doesn't mean that's how he believes it should be. DiSano sees the larger problem being "dark money" or funds from super PACs that aren’t publicly available.

It can be hard to know how to make a difference, and DiSano says, "It's just so depressing that no one knows where to start."

"I don't think voters spend much time at all really worrying about campaign finance numbers and where the money comes from. If they did we would have a real conversation about campaign finance reform in this country," DiSano said.

Until then, DiSano says candidates will continue to publicize these numbers until it doesn't work.