I am generally of the opinion that big money will not matter that much in determining the winners in American presidential politics. Because each party wins about half the time, we would expect rational people (and corporations, although I guess they are now people too) to support both parties; higher spending overall will not necessarily mean higher spending by one party relative to the other. Plus, because presidential politics rely on so many macro issues, and the candidates become very well known by the time the election comes around, the benefits of the extra marginal dollar become quite small.
And yet, I can’t ignore Mitt Romney’s ad blitz in Florida and its effectiveness. After reading the piece in the NYTimes this weekend following Romney’s campaign, you would think that the reason Romney is doing better in Florida is because his campaign told him to “unleash” his aggressive side and start attacking Gingrich. But actually, it just means he outspent Gingrich 5:1. We can look at isolated examples where the bigger money candidate lost (Boxer in CA, Kerry in 2004). But the asymmetry of the Florida election suggests that the age of superspending is just beginning and it will have consequences. It also suggests that because the Establishment can’t rally around a candidate in the way they used to (for fear of incurring Tea Party wrath), their circling of the wagons will just involve tens of millions of dollars.