Money can’t buy you love. Or an election, it turns out.
A recent study that looks at self-funded candidates proves that “vanity candidacies” are just about as popular with the public as vanity books, vanity movies and other “look at me” projects. In the past decade, self-funded candidates—i.e., those who raised more than half of all their campaign contributions from themselves or an immediate family member—have pumped more than $ 900 million into their own campaigns. But despite these large amounts, self-financed candidates have prevailed only about 11 percent of the time.
This study demonstrates two important things. The first is that elections are not a contest of who has more cash; candidates and their views do in fact matter. The second is that when candidates don’t have to raise funds from the electorate—either because they self-fund or get their campaign cash from the government—they are not subject to the discipline of the political marketplace. So what you often end up with are maladroit candidates whose views often fail to reflect those of their would-be constituents