Monday, February 22, 2016

Early Political Donors Face Diminishing Primary 2016 Expectations

The early shakeouts of the 2016 US presidential campaign have done more than dash the hopes of some long-shot candidates. The financial backers who committed piles of money to the early efforts of doomed campaigns also face major disappointments. Any expectation that money could transform this election are gone.

The Jeb Bush campaign was one of the largest wastes of money in American political history. The biggest Bush donors got badly burned and they now face candidates who are unlikely to consider their business interests. The current Republican front-runner has spent little on direct media or ground organizations compared to the other serious candidates. One of the cheapest modern GOP campaigns, in both popular votes and party delegates acquired, is possible with celebrity-powered free media that reads the cultural zeitgeist correctly.

The Anglophile Establishment in America has always had a bias in favor of large enterprises. Big sectors employ lots of unionized voters and are easier to protect with trade rules and tax breaks. The remaining Establishment hopes in either major political party lack popular appeal precisely because their longstanding ties to big business are so obvious.

The business community must now face the prospect of a future administration that owes them nothing. A progressive Senator promising unlimited free benefits and a real estate tycoon promising a free border wall will feel no loyalty to Wall Street or subsidized sectors, assuming they get their party nominations. America is on the cusp of a political transformation that may break the rule of an oligarchy unable to fathom its own shortcomings. Money could not buy political cover this time. Political "investors" must recalibrate what it means to earn ROI without political influence, if their fortunes even survive the next recession.