‘Big Money’ and the 2016 Elections

Stuart Rothenberg April 24, 2015 · 9:54 AM EDT

Reporters love to write about money in politics, so I shouldn’t have been at all surprised by an April 20 Washington Post article suggesting campaign finance is becoming an issue in the presidential contest.

But a front-page story above the fold that relied on a couple of anecdotes and never came close to demonstrating that “big money” was becoming a crucial issue to voters?

I’ve been writing about and responding to questions about money in campaigns for decades, as have my colleagues over the years at Roll Call.  For many reporters, money is a go-to subject, in part because quarterly FEC filings give reporters hard data to report and discuss.  Spending by candidates, parties and “outside groups” certainly plays a role in campaigns and in election outcomes, so it’s an important facet of any election.

But it’s also true that many reporters (I don’t know if this is the case in the Post piece) and commentators believe the ocean of money in campaigns is obscene and an effort by the moneyed interest to buy legislators, so they are eager to write about perceived abuses. And that makes campaign finance a tricky subject, where the fine line between reporting and political analysis on one hand and editorializing on the other can be blurry.

The Post article began with two anecdotes —…

Cruz’s Struggle: This Man Loves to Argue

Stuart Rothenberg April 22, 2015 · 9:44 AM EDT

The first time I met Ted Cruz, he argued with me. The second time I met Ted Cruz, he argued with me. It wasn’t personal, of course. Ted Cruz simply loves to argue.

Those two incidents told me a lot about Cruz. The first time was at an event in Florida in February 2012, months before he won the…

Context for Facebook Chatter About Presidential Candidates

Nathan L. Gonzales April 21, 2015 · 9:48 AM EDT

Millions of people have talked about the presidential contenders on Facebook as they officially launch campaigns. But despite some gaudy numbers, context and limits of the data cast doubt on the impact Facebook conversations will have on the race.

In the 24 hours surrounding Florida Sen. Marco…

The What Ifs of the 2016 GOP Presidential Race

Stuart Rothenberg April 20, 2015 · 9:28 AM EDT

If Jeb Bush doesn’t win any of the first four GOP contests — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — does that eliminate him from the Republican race? Or does he have the staying power to survive those losses?

If Texas Sen. Ted Cruz finishes first in the Iowa caucuses, does that all but…

Senate Overview: Retirements and Primaries Matter for Majority

Nathan L. Gonzales April 17, 2015 · 3:04 PM EDT

A year and a half before Election Day, the battle for the Senate is well underway.

GOP strategists are spending the first part of the cycle encouraging their incumbents to run for re-election while Democratic strategists are recruiting challengers to vulnerable Republican senators running for…