Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hey, big spenders

(Excellent quality courtesy of the PMO, click on photo to enlarge)

What do these two politicians have in common? They like to advertise. Heavily. One with private money. One with public. And they're in a league of their own.

Did you catch this interesting read on the weekend: "Bloomberg Sets Record for Personal Spending in Pursuit of Public Office." The Mayor who is now up for an unprecedented third term (having changed the precedent, i.e., the two term term-limit) and facing a weak opponent has nevertheless "...spent $85 million on his latest re-election campaign, and is on pace to spend between $110 million and $140 million before the election on Nov. 3." The spending, for a well-known figure in Bloomberg's position, is described by critics as "off the charts." He now has a 16-point lead over his Democratic opponent. No matter how bravely that Democrat spins it, it's fair to say he doesn't stand much of a chance:
...he had raised $270,000 over the last three weeks.

While donations came in at a much brisker pace than in the previous three-week reporting period, when he raised $114,000, that is unlikely to make a dent in Mr. Bloomberg’s advantage. Factoring in public matching funds, Mr. Thompson will have $3 million in the final week and a half of the race.

“This is a clear indication that the momentum of the mayoral race continues to shift towards Bill Thompson,” said Mike Murphy, a spokesman for the Thompson campaign.
That last quote included just for the sheer chutzpah of it. That guy is earning his pay!

What has all this got to do with Canadian politics anyway? Well, maybe something in the way of a parallel. We have our big spenders up here too. Not spending their personal or party funds in support of the ever ongoing Conservative election campaign, but spending liberally from the public purse on advertising that crosses a line between legitimate government public education and partisan slanting. It's been estimated that the advertising on the Economic Action Plan in just the first six months of the year could be in the order of $56 million. If such costs hold through the rest of the year (the rotation of the EAP ads in September, along with the Home Renovation Tax Credit was high), you can see how an estimated $100 million this year could come about. In other words, record government advertising.

You can't help but think that all of it has had a desired effect. Impress upon people status quo support for the Conservatives and with that ever so subtle feel good messaging, make support for the Conservatives/the government just a little more palatable. Advertising works.

Harper's never been a fan of political spending limits. Now, for all intents and purposes, he's up there with the Bloombergs of the world. Mike's in the $100 million range, so's Steve. Let's not be too shocked at those polls.