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U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D-NV) speaks to reporters after Senate luncheons as he is accompanied by Sen. Jeff Merkley, (D-OR) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) at Capitol Hill in Washington, July 16, 2013. U.S. Senate negotiators neared a deal on Tu
When Harry Reid and other Democrats rail at the Kochs, it's about far more than these two billionaire brothers—as obnoxious as their influence in our politics is. It's about the ability of a couple of billionaires to buy a branch of government. They're making a bet that the voting public is fed up enough with money in politics and with how that money has stacked the cards against most of us—unemployment insurance extension blocked by Republicans, a minimum wage hike filibustered—that this is a message that will resonate for 2014 and beyond. A new battleground survey from Democracy Corps suggests they might be on to something. Greg Sargent summarizes the findings:
Conducted with the Public Campaign Action Fund, it finds that in the 86 most competitive House districts, there is strong opposition across party lines to the McCutcheon decision—and strong support for efforts to reduce the influence over money in politics.

The poll found that even in contested Republican districts, 70 percent oppose the McCutcheon ruling when it’s described to them, 56 percent strongly, and in Dem battleground districts, 74 percent oppose it, 62 percent strongly. An overwhelming 71 percent of independents in the 86 battleground districts oppose the decision.

That makes reform particularly attractive. The survey polled a proposed campaign finance reform, The Government by the People Act, and found solid support. The survey described it as a measure that would restrict people running for Congress to small-dollar contributions with a maximum of $150 per individual. That would be matched  on a six-to-one basis with public funds, and contributors would get a $25 tax credit. That proposal got 70 percent approval across all districts and all political persuasions. People in Democratic districts supported it 71 percent, Republican districts 69 percent.

They note that "there is particularly intense support for the bill among the Rising American Electorate of young people, unmarried women, and minorities." In other words, the electorate that Democrats need to turn out for elections. Sargent talked with Erica Seifert, a pollster for Democracy Corps.

"The old adage used to be that campaign finance reform isn't something you run on," Seifert told me. "But over the last few years, we've been seeing that this is something voters care about. We've tested it in a bunch of different ways. People see political inequality and money in politics as driving a lot of the fundamental economic problems we’re dealing with." […]

"Focusing on political inequality and money in politics is a good way to appeal to independents, and appeals to moderate Republicans who are starting to take a harder look at the conservative agenda of today’s Republican Party," she said. "It's a way to separate yourself from Washington and appeal to people who are incredibly angry about it."

The groundswell of support that has made the economic populist Sen. Elizabeth Warren a political hero didn't come out of nowhere. Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century didn't become Amazon's top-selling book in a vacuum.  People are riled up about inequality and about the influence of money in politics that's led to that inequality. It's really a no-brainer for Democrats to run against that, even it will mean a little soul-searching, and maybe some campaign finance reform, on their own parts.

It's smart politics because the contrast couldn't be greater, which is proven with every Republican filibuster of the minimum wage or unemployment insurance, every vote the Republican House stages to repeal people's health insurance. Couple it with the backing the GOP has from the too-villainous-to-be-true Kochs, and Democrats might just be able to sway some voters their way.

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Comment Preferences

  •  They have to be demonized. (13+ / 0-)

    Because they're demons.

    The sooner the better.

    I've never left a blank space on a ballot... but I will not vote for someone [who vows] to spy on me. I will not do it. - dclawyer06

    Trust, but verify. - Reagan
    Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

    by Words In Action on Mon May 05, 2014 at 03:09:06 PM PDT

    •  The Catch-22 (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hawkseye, MPociask

      ...is that the money needed to run is still coming from moneyed interests... even on the Democratic side.

      What rich donor is going to give campaign money to candidates that are running on a platform of taking away the rich donor's ability to give money?

      Obama made a big deal of running on small-amount contributions, and got a big haul. And though I am overall pleased with his Presidency, he still cozies up far too closely to the rich for my comfort.

      Excessive literary production is a social offense. - George Eliot

      by pyramus on Mon May 05, 2014 at 03:22:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  At times Nader seems to suggest that... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Words In Action

        ...outside of something significantly worse than the so-called "Great Recession", progress will come only with a sufficient number of "enlightened billionaires" deciding to become "class traitors."

        Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. --Martin Luther King Jr.

        by Egalitare on Mon May 05, 2014 at 04:45:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  He lied though (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Words In Action, MPociask

        When he said he was going to take public funding I believed, and trusted him. That should of been a red flag, along with his stance on marriage. I feel duped

      •  The distinction needs to be drawn... (4+ / 0-)

        ... between billionaires pouring money into campaigns for issues based reasons, and billionaires pouring money into campaigns for reasons that benefit them personally.  The former is undue influence in our democracy, which isn't desirable.  The latter is buying politicians, and is naked corruption.  

        Ads against the Koch brothers should absolutely use words like "corrupt," "crooked," and "bought and paid for" to describe the candidates the Kochs are supporting.  The point is to create a controversy and get a response.  Then the ad becomes a news story.  So Koch-funded candidates can sit back and take the attack ads, or they can respond and be on the defensive in a political campaign on the question of corruption.  It's impossible to lose in a situation like that by attacking the Koch candidate hard.

        We have always been at war with al Qaeda.

        by Dallasdoc on Mon May 05, 2014 at 05:00:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I am also hoping this will work (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rebel ga, Mostel26

    against Republican Bruce Rauner as he attempts to buy the office of Governor of Illinois.  He's got nothing credible to run on, but Dem Pat Quinn has made some tough unpopular decisions and is vulnerable.

    They're making a bet that the voting public is fed up enough with money in politics and with how that money has stacked the cards against most of us

    I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

    by Satya1 on Mon May 05, 2014 at 03:10:40 PM PDT

  •  Rec'd And Tipped (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26

    Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

    by rebel ga on Mon May 05, 2014 at 03:12:04 PM PDT

  •  The thing is: Populism works, if done right, (4+ / 0-)

    and someone with a good message and delivery, such as Sen. Warren, could appeal to the Left and Right.
    John Edwards had a good Populist message, until he crapped in his nest.

    Severely Socialist 47283

    by ichibon on Mon May 05, 2014 at 03:13:09 PM PDT

  •  Be careful--the Kochs own the sun. That's why they (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TDDVandy, hawkseye, Egalitare

    are entitled to bankroll laws fining citizens who put up solar panels.  

    In Georgia, acting the fool with a gun is not only legal, it is encouraged by the governor and the state legislature.

    by Mayfly on Mon May 05, 2014 at 03:14:53 PM PDT

  •  The Kochs are one thing. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TDDVandy, Seattle Socialist, MPociask

    How about running against Goldman Sachs?

  •  I do not see why (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hawkseye

    running against the people who really run the Republican Party would be a bad idea.

    29, white male, TX-07 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

    by TDDVandy on Mon May 05, 2014 at 03:26:52 PM PDT

  •  So why does the polling still suck for Dems? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MPociask

       .

    "Le ciel est bleu, l'enfer est rouge."

    by Buzzer on Mon May 05, 2014 at 03:28:33 PM PDT

    •  I think it's going to change as soon as the Dems (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GoodGod, buffie

      sell Obamacare.  People would see it as a real winner if Dems would just sell it.
      Benghazi is not going to win an election.  Neither is beating up on the IRS woman.  Rethugs don't have anything else.
      It's basic.  Elections are about the future.  

      Putting the fun back in dysfunctional.

      by hawkseye on Mon May 05, 2014 at 03:42:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Koch spend cycle (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jake formerly of the LP

      The Kochs just spent a load on anti-Obamacare ads (mostly falsehoods). It has some effect. But the timing is off (as per Chuck Schumer on Morning Joe, this a.m.).

      As the reality of good news about Obamacare now emerges, it will be a positive not the current convoluted negative drag on polling.

      The remaining ACA obstacle is that current healthcare costs are up significantly this year, as predicted, as the newly insured catch up on neglected doctor visits. And it's not predicted to drop until after the midterms. The Dems need to get out front and own the message on what's actually going on here.

      "Inequality is the root of social evil." ― Pope Francis

      by GoodGod on Mon May 05, 2014 at 03:46:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Because it is not smart politics (0+ / 0-)

      The key words in this poll are "when the content is explained to them."  Sure - and the individual parts of the ACA always polled well.  But unless you can find a way to have a conversation with every single voter (who is somehow hermetically sealed from the other sides propaganda), you won't get votes talking about the Kochs (most voters do not know who they are) or the McCutcheon decision (most voters do not know what that is).

  •  That, and a whole bunch more (0+ / 0-)

    Ag subsidies that go mostly to big ag and rich nobodies. Bankster bonus babies back to being bankster bonus babies, after billions of our bucks bailed 'em out. Billionaire assholes still being billionaire assholes. Wall Street booms while the middle and working classes erode, and the poor get pissed on.

    Worst economic collapse in nearly a century, and nobody went to prison. While millions were foreclosed and/or went bankrupt.

    Yeah, there might be an issue or two in that pile of manure. If too many Dems weren't complicit in the corporate takeover, we would probably be all over these issues.

    We need to shed the corporate Dems and go full throttle after the banksters, billionaires, and bonus babies.

    A man does as he is when he can do what he wants

    by BobBlueMass on Mon May 05, 2014 at 03:33:00 PM PDT

  •  It's easier to hate individuals (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buffie

    Than abstract ideas or faceless groups.

    The Kochs may serve as an Emmanuel Goldstein-like unifying symbol for us to focus anger on.

  •  Kinda related to Koch, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buffie

    But i feel something really bad has happened to PBS. I don't know when they switched to the dark side exactly, and i know they always got some Koch money for stuff. But they seem really reactionary right now on quite a few things. Its just something ive been noticing more (and more) of lately.

    "....No Compromise in the Defense of Mother Earth!"

    by Seattle Socialist on Mon May 05, 2014 at 04:37:47 PM PDT

  •  Wake up dems (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buffie

    The democrats should run on their record of getting things done like they did in 2008-2010, when they controlled congress and the presidency. That's when they had no gridlock, and were able to get so many progressive laws passed. Something like, look we did great things when we controlled congress, so let's get back to that. Obama was on a roll, and made great things happen.

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