Are Attacks on Citizens United Hurting Democrats’ Bottom Line?

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Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 10:32 am

An article in today’s New York Times about traditional big Democratic donors drawing back their support makes an interesting point about the disparity in the fundraising efforts between liberal and conservative political groups since the Citizens United ruling:

It also appears, however, that Republicans have outmaneuvered their Democratic counterparts since the Citizens United decision. They have taken advantage of Democratic broadsides against the ruling, which have inevitably had an effect on the attitudes of Democratic donors.

Mr. Obama devoted one of his weekly radio addresses this month to the effect he said untamed special interests were having on the midterm election. “We can see for ourselves how destructive to our democracy this can become,” he said. “We see it in the flood of deceptive attack ads sponsored by special interests using front groups with misleading names.”

Several Democratic strategists said the White House’s denunciations had made entreaties to prospective donors trickier.

“You can complain about the rules, or you can respond to them and fight back against the people who welcome those rule changes,” said Craig Varoga, who heads up Patriot Majority, which has been supporting Senator Harry Reid in Nevada and has been one of the most active Democratic-leaning outside groups.

Indeed, attacking the result of Citizens United — the flow of unlimited sums of money from corporations into express advocacy efforts — doesn’t seem like the ideal pitch to big Democratic donors. Democrats may claim the moral high ground (and public opinion) on the issue, but it would seem to dampen their ability to compete. No wonder George Soros and others say they’re focusing more on progressive policy issues than on direct election spending.

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