Did the ability to raise an infinite amount of money in this election make a difference?—Bill Maher, Real Time Blog, 11/19/12
If you just paid attention to the Presidential race, then you might think the answer is no. But that’s because the Presidential race is unlike any other contest in the country. People take it personally. They’re invested in it. They’d seen Obama for four years and they’d seen Romney on Jay Leno and the cable shows and the debates. People in swing states may have been drowning in a bukkake-like stream of Romney and Obama ads, but it’s not like those ads were providing all of their information.
But when it comes to state contests and ballot propositions, people generally don’t know much beyond the ads, so in those races money isn’t just the main thing, it’s the only thing.
Prop 37 went down in defeat because $48 million was spent to defeat it. This was a proposition that asked the simple question, “Wouldn’t you like to know what you’re putting in your mouth?” Before the ads started running, something like 90 percent of Californians who answered were for Prop 37. Now, they’re against it. They’re against knowing what they’re putting in their mouth.
It’s not that the anti-37 ads were particularly convincing. They didn’t make any real arguments. It’s just that there were so many of them. I saw them on Hulu when I watched old episodes of “My Favorite Martian.” People keep complaining about the repetition of political ads, the same ad over and over and over, but that’s the whole point — it’s hypnosis. That’s how hypnosis works. The same thing. Repeated over and over. And over again. The same thing. Repeated over and over. Again. Repeated. And before you know it, you think you’re a chicken. Or you don’t care what’s in your chicken.