According to National Review (which has no reason to make it up, given their POV), the Koch brothers are not planning on funding much in 2016 at the federal level, including zero into the presidential race.
I’m not someone who has considered the Kochs the bogeymen they are usually portrayed as, but I think this is potentially a big deal. Thoughts?
The Koch network is comprised of much more than just the Koch brothers, and too numerous to list. Their annual meeting has many very rich attendees. To Trump’s credit, he refused to attend, which means he likely does not endorse the Libertarian viewpoint, which also means that the Kochs themselves would be unlikely to contribute to his campaign, particularly since their favored candidates (Cruz or Rubio or Santorum, et al) are done. But there are a lot of billionaires out there. And yes, the focus has been at the state level, where they have had tremendous success in gerrymandering and turning formerly blue states a crimson red (North Carolina, for example). This directly impacts who ends up in Congress, of course.
Impact of pulling out of most federal campaigns = more money to state and congressional activities.
IMHO this is not a positive development. Presidential campaigns can burn up a huge amount of political money that gets wasted. A few dollars goes a lot farther in winning at the state and congressional level.
This is my concern. A lot of voters don’t seem to care about state and local races. This makes those races easier to influence, so a little spending can go a long way and the results of those races can have a huge impact.
There are hints and suggestions that the old style money machine politics is dying before our very eyes. After how many years? What campaign finance meant was money for advertising, to sell us our future the same way they sold us cars with fins. Maybe my whole life, that has been the way it was done, they way it had to be done.
Item: remember when Jeb(!) was behind in his efforts to continue as the presumptive nominee? How his backers poured something like 40 million bucks into New Hampshire to try and boost his poll numbers a couple of points? Remember what they got for it? Zero, zilch, squadoosh!
Item: the rising importance of small donor/power to the people financing. It had some impact on Obama, but was pretty much Bernies whole thing. Recent controversy aside, he made a pretty good showing.
Campaign money was the central motivation of the Clintonista, menshevik, Republican Lite movement. The Republicans had succeeded in largely killing the unions. Corporate America made bet-hedging contributions to the Dems, but the Pubbies got the biggest share. What happens if that no longer matters? What happens if Citizens United is moot? What happens when the Koch Adelson Cabal sees it as a giant money shredding machine that produces nothing?
No joy for that. Giving Bernie a charitable (pun not exactly intended) $40M per month, and giving him a surplus of $60M (again, very charitable), he’d have $300M for the general election campaign, if he were to be nominated. Even with DNC contributions, he’d be outspent by a normal R candidate. (In case there was any question, Trump is not normal fundswise. He started fundraising very late.) He’d either have to choose big money donors (granted, not as many, but that’s not the point) or risk losing votes and very likely the election.
So he gets the strength of his convictions or the Presidency, not both. And even then, how many votes does he lose for compromising his convictions?
Contrary to what you might think if you get your news from the New York Times or suchlike sources, the Koch brothers are not the biggest donors in American politics. Not even close. In the last election cycle, Charles Koch and his wife donated a bit over five million dollars. That amount is dwarfed by the top donor, Tom Steyer, who gave seventy-five million dollars (to Democrats)–fifteen times as much as Charles Koch gave.
So while some people are absolutely certain that the Koch Brothers are responsible for unleashing a tidal wave of money that’s destroying democracy, they are wrong. Their donations are relatively small and irrelevant compared to the totals that get spent on elections.
You need to read more than just an article. Over the years, the Koch brothers recruited other like-minded billionaires and multi-millionaires to contribute to their cause, as they realized that they would not be able to sustain a huge outlay every couple of years. They have been very successful in that effort, and as a result no longer have to make huge donations. At their annual gathering of vultures, hundreds of millions of dollars are pledged by those attending, and that money goes to superpacs with high-sounding names like Americans For Prosperity. This is why there is presently $900 million in the Republican kitty. The Kochs are absolutely responsible for “unleashing a tidal wave of money that’s destroying democracy”, but the focus has changed.
They have no intention of stopping the spending in local elections. The NYT pointed out a Wisconsin race in particular that they are very interested in swinging. There are plenty of others in their network who are willing to dump money into the national election.