(If Romney’s rich donors are such savvy businessmen, why have they made such an awful investment? Left to right: Sheldon Adelson, courtesy Wikipedia Commons; Mitt Romney and Donald Trump, courtesy Gage Skidmore.)
America’s richest Republicans are about to lose – big.
“The fact is, having money doesn’t mean you’re smart or self-aware or even cynical,” said Will Caskey, Principal for Chicago-based Third Coast Research.
Five of America’s wealthiest donors have poured over $93 million into their campaign to elect Mitt Romney as president, according to a Wednesday AP report. That’s nearly seven times more the five largest contributors to President Obama, who have given about $14 million, according to the AP.
But Obama’s going to win. The polls are clear, as I wrote recently for the Baltimore Post Examiner: the President maintains a commanding lead in the electoral college.
A resounding political defeat for our right-wing plutocrats is less than a week away. And so is a revelation that their admirers may find shocking: some of the nation’s most successful businessmen are terrible investors.
Like buying a muffin
Romney’s financial backers seem determined to lose their money in the most ridiculous ways possible.
“This isn’t about influencing an election,” Caskey said. “This is about donors feeling good about themselves and consultants profiting from it…it’s kind of like when I buy myself a muffin, only with a lot of additional zeroes.”
Take Americans for Prosperity, funded by billionaires Charles and David Koch. They’ve been buying gas for Wisconsin voters in what Kristen Crowell, Executive Director for We Are Wisconsin, called a “scheme to ‘persuade’ voters that President Obama’s policies are failing.”
Set aside the initiative’s apparent violation of Wisconsin state law on election bribery. Do the Kochs know that Obama leads by over 4 points in Wisconsin – a lead that has only grown in recent weeks? Do the Kochs know that only 18% of voters blame the President for gas prices, according to the Washington Post?
After all, AFP has spent over $8 million attacking Obama on Solyndra – a cooked-up non-controversy that only 42% of Americans have even heard of, according to an NBC News / Wall Street Journal poll.
Wealthy activists often indulge personal hobbyhorses and idiosyncratic politics, Caskey said – and consultants are happy to take their money.
“It’s easy to put together something that is ‘outside of the box’,” Caskey said. “These schemes never work. Anyone who might possibly vote against Obama because of gas prices of all things is already pulling the ballot for Romney.”
A casino owner’s bad bets
Or consider Sheldon Adelson – a casino owner and the 12th richest person in the United States. Adelson has donated more than $44 million this election cycle to Romney’s campaign and allied political groups. And that’s on top of the $20 million in the Republican primaries funding former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Gingrich typically trailed Obama by about 14 points in national polls – and never came closer than five. He only earned 145 delegates in the Republican primaries. He needed 1,144.
But Adelson stuck with him to the bitter end. It wasn’t until late March that he finally admitted, in an interview with JewishJournal.com, that Gingrich was “at the end of his line.” Gingrich dropped out a month later.
Today, we’re seeing the same pattern. Adelson and his wife donated $10 million to pro-Romney Super PAC “Restore Our Future” in early October alone. Even then, Obama maintained a projected 40 vote lead in the Electoral College.
Ironically, Adelson may be afflicted with the same addictive behaviour that plagues the gamblers in his casinos: doubling down. In such instances, according to Berkeley professor Barry Shaw, “the individual will, instead of changing his behavior, cognitively distort the negative consequences ” as a way to “rationalize their previous behavior”.
In other words, it appears that Adelson – like so many Romney supporters – can’t admit when he’s made a losing bet, not even to himself.
The genius of Trump
Of course, no review of dumb campaign schemes by rich Romney supporters would be complete without the loudest of them all: Donald Trump.
Trump, hoping to dredge up a scandal, has offered the President $5 million for the release of his college and passport records. On Tuesday, he took advantage of Hurricane Sandy to remind everyone of his plan.
“Because of the hurricane, I am extending my 5 million dollar offer for President Obama’s favourite charity until 12 p.m. on Thursday,” Trump tweeted.
Lots of money being wasted against Obama this year – but then again, Trump might get to keep his.
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