20060420

The Difference Between 4% and 6%

I'm really understanding the benefits of technology these days. I was speaking with a professor last week and he was telling me about the very nasty political campaign that ran against Abraham Lincoln. I never knew that happened in spite of the hours and hours of American History we all had to sit through. But it makes sense in a warped political way. He was perceived as a threat to what some people were comfortable with (how's that for an understatement?!) and so he was the target of threats, rumors and scandal mongers.

Exactly how fast did a rumor spread 1861?

Think of it... Imagine no CNN or Headline News. No USA Today. No 6:00 local nightly news and no 6:30 national nightly news. No phones, never mind cell phones. No computers. No Internet. No instant messaging.

If your neighbor told you something you'd want to pass on, how long would it take for the news to get to the next state if you could only rely on face to face conversations or hand-written letters delivered on foot or horseback? Keep in mind that people were living much farther apart back then too.

But, with the technology available now, when Brittany Spears' baby falls, we all know about it within 12 hours, if that long. Now, whether we need to know that is a whole other column, but the speed and availability of information on the Internet makes things possible that were never dreamed of.

Like finding out exactly who gave how much to which candidate. There are various sites that let you search out that information. The Federal Election Commission site is the warehouse of all the campaign filings, where the original sources are found. Open Secrets offers a variety of comparisons between candidates. At Campaign Money, I can search exactly who in my zip code donated how much to who. In these days of Abramhoff and National Energy Policies written by the oil companies, if I can't fight them, I can at least know who they are.

I've spent the last several days making my own analysis of the campaign finances in light of my personal issues of interest.

In a previous post, I wrote about listening to the then 4 candidates for Congress from the NY24 speak on a panel. We're down to 2 now, but I'm still nagged by a question I asked Les Roberts during that meeting. He had spoken about the national fundraising tour he was on and how much money he was raising in New Hampshire, Chicago, etc. I've lived in Utica and New Hartford, aside from academic months away for college, since I was 7 years old. This is my home. I asked him "why do all these people from all around America want you to be our representative in Congress?"

This election has gotten much bigger than anything I've ever done, which is exciting and slightly terrifying too. Understanding how expensive this race will be, I full well know that there will be significant money coming into the area from outside the area. Personally, that always makes me a little uncomfortable. But practicality demands that things cost money and the money has to be found. Its just as green outside the NY24 as inside.

But, it's also a measure of how much support a candidate has. And looking at the donations can offer all kinds of information. How that data can be used is dependent on what someone is looking for. I had a psychometrics prof who always said that the almost always right answer to almost any question is "It depends." That is why I chose the title of this entry.

I'm still trying to better understand why Les Roberts and his supporters want him to represent the NY24th in Congress. War zone victims, international and developing countries' healthcare issues, and genocide are subjects that greatly move me, not only as examples of man's inhumanity, but also because my heritage goes back to a country that has and continues to experience all three. But I can't say that those are problems we in the NY24th are facing and need help with.

So, for the last several days, I've been culling through the finance reports that have been filed with the FEC for the Roberts and Arcuri campaigns. I started simply out of curiosity about the Roberts' finances but what I found there made me go through the Michael Arcuri finances too.

Looking at contributions by individuals, I saw a lot of familiar names (yes, including my own). Hey, we're a small town in a lot of ways and there aren't many degrees of separation among us. It was no surprise to me how many people I knew. But the numbers are striking.

Arcuri for Congress Committee contributions from individuals:
96% came from inside the NY 24th Congressional District.
4% came from outside the NY 24th Congressional District.
(raw number:11 donors)
*Of the 4%, about a third are from people who I assume are friends or family members who live else where.
*Only 2 donors were from outside New York State, both I assume to have family ties.
*Three other donors are from the NYC area.

Friends of Les Roberts Committee contributions from individuals:
6% came from inside the NY 24th Congressional District. (raw number: 11 donors)
*60% of the inside district donation was from the candidate himself
*One of the inside district donors has stated that the only reason he donated was because the candidate had a web site up early enough
94% came from outside the NY 24th Congressional District
*Donations were made from the following states: Virginia, Maryland, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Washington, Hawaii, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Kentucky, Illinois, Texas, California, Vermont, North Carolina, Colorado, and the District of Columbia

The difference between 4% and 6% is obvious. It just depends on who's investing in OUR representation. I can (OK, I have to) live with money from people who don't call this place "HOME" making a difference in who will be representing us. But I still want to know why so many people who don't call the NY24th "home" want Roberts to represent us. But now I also want to know just who are all these people who think they know what's better FOR US?

When I was in grad school, my parents would visit and invariably my mother would rearrange my kitchen to the arrangement she thought it should be. It drove me crazy, but she is my mother. I'm getting that crazy feeling again.
Maimun

6 comments:

The Utican said...

That's a great blog Maimun. What an eye opener. Now I'm not surprised why the "negative" bloggers are mentioning Roberts at all in their dissections of campaign contributors.

YouGoMike said...

Maimun, this is one of your finest poetic works. Perhaps this is how "poetic justice" got started to begin with, and maybe not too far down the road, some of that is in the stars. Maybe that's why taking the High Road is always worthwhile.

Well done. And.....very revealing in a whole host of ways. Mike Arcuri is lucky to have your support.

Biggus Dickus said...

A very well written piece, but I think you may be making the error of thinking tactically and not strategically.

Tactically, bringing out the issue of external involvement in a local primary makes sense when your opponent is heavily reliant on those external resources. Humans are pack animals, after all, with an evolutionary predisposition to insular thought. The presence of outside forces attempting to influence our internal group dynamics makes us nervous.

Strategically, bringing out that issue opens up your candidate to the exact same criticism both in the primary and the general election. The DCCC's support of Arcuri isn't exactly a secret, and I think you may have created a vulnerability where one didn't exist. You've opened a door that others are more than happy to have unlocked, so to speak.

maimun said...

By design, we are a District with borders and an inside and an outside. It's Home for some and not home for a great deal more.

And I stated in my piece that I'm not comfortable with outside money, but that I understand and accept that it's going to be part of this election. If you think the DCCC money might be the only outside money coming in, you're going to be in for a shock.

But, the DCCC has an interest in this district as well as every other congressional campaign. So does the NRCC. So does pro- and anti-choice groups, environmental groups, women's groups, civil rights groups and every other group out there that seeks to address issues that face the entirety of America.

But what interest do individuals who live in Virginia, Maryland, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Washington, Hawaii, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Kentucky, Illinois, Texas, California, Vermont, North Carolina, Colorado, and the District of Columbia have in who will represent us in Congress?

Outside financing is going to be a reality this year. But while I can and have an obligation to call the police if I suspect violence occuring in my neighbor's home, I don't have a voice in what style they decorate their home. That's the difference between national organizations like DCCC and NRCC and John Doe in Ohio.

You should also note that should Michael Arcuri get the assistance of the DCCC, it will be after he's already shown that 96% of his supporters also call the NY24th "Home" compared to only 6% of the supporters of the other Democratic candidate.
-Maimun

Anonymous said...

Since when is having the support of your party a bad thing anyways? You Neocons do it all the time Biggus. I've seen your party support guys most people wouldn't leave alone in a room with their wallets for three minutes. We have a capable winner here Biggus, and I know you know that. I think the party SHOULD recognize that.

Biggus Dickus said...

"You Neocons do it all the time Biggus."

"The" Neocons. I'm not one of them. I don't even think the people that are called neo-cons today are what neo-cons once were. I know I'm not the only Republican that has become disenchanted with the party since it rejected the ideal of limiting government power.

"We have a capable winner here Biggus, and I know you know that. I think the party SHOULD recognize that."

Oh, I think Arcuri is clearly the stronger candidate. The problem is that your own fringe elements have convinced themselves that they're the heart of the party. That parallels the Republican experience with the Birchers in the 60's and I'm afraid it's going to have the same disasterous results for party unity.