Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
The 2020 presidential election comes down to places like Pittsburgh. While Hillary Clinton held the city, President Trump won the Pittsburgh metropolitan area. This time around, both Trump and Biden are holding rallies in Pittsburgh, an actual rally for Trump, and a drive-in for Biden.
President Trump is betting that enthusiasm matters more than money because Democrats are spending more than twice the annual budget of Pittsburgh to buy the White House.
Biden, by the numbers, is expected to break the $1 billion fundraising record. Almost $400 million is coming through in outside spending for Biden and over $300 million against Trump.
44% of federal donations have gone to Biden so that a mediocre campaign for a mediocre candidate has swallowed a number approaching half the spending for the election cycle.
Biden’s current total of $1.6 billion will almost certainly fall short of the staggering final number.
To put that number into perspective, Obama and McCain, together, spent $1 billion and that was considered a shocking number only twelve years ago. Every election since then has not only been more expensive, but has broken records in election spending. And it seemed to work.
Obama outraised McCain by over 3 to 1, pulling in $750 million to McCain’s partly $238 million. Romney’s own wealth and ability to tap into big donors brought closer parity, but Obama still beat Romney by $1.1 to $1 billion.
Until the last election, fundraising totals were a much more practical bellwether of victory than a bakery’s cookies or any of the other gimmicks that press veterans trot out before Election Day.
And then, even though Hillary Clinton was able to raise $973 million through donors to Trump’s $564 million, the money lost and people power won. Money was no longer able to buy elections.
Hillary Clinton spent $969 million and Trump spent $531 million for a total of $1.5 billion.
At $1.6 billion, Biden and his backers, many of them shadowy, some injecting dark money into the race, have already outspent the 2016 total presidential candidate donor spending.
And when the election bill finally comes due, it’s likely that Biden and his outside backers will have spent more money than both candidates and their PACs combined.
The staggering scale of the spending is more than a strategy, it’s a worldview.
The Democrats and the special interests behind them are spending an insane fortune, one that could keep Pittsburgh and many swing counties going for years, to buy the White House. And they’re doing it because they believe that the 2016 election was an implausible fluke.
The 2020 election is about more than personalities: it’s about power. And the powerful are betting that this is the election that will assert the power of campaign spending over populism.
The central theory of political campaigns is that most people are stupid. Otherwise why spend billions trying to lie to them? The Democrats and their media allies concluded that Trump only won last time around because he was able to outshout them. They began the 2020 campaign three years ago, long before Biden’s run or the Democrat primaries, on three simple strategies to silence Trump and achieve messaging supremacy in order to win with any candidate.
The first was to transform the media into a megaphone for attacking President Trump and touting Democrats. The media had been shamelessly corrupt in 2016, by 2020 its programming is entirely indistinguishable from a PAC’s ad campaigns for Biden and against Trump.
And what that really means is that the Democrats aren’t spending a mere $1.6 billion to elect Biden, they’re also spending the budgets of nearly every cable news network, newspaper, digital media site, and the rest of the massive media infrastructure. Cable news budgets alone take us into the billions. Operating expenses for the New York Times’ parent company were $1.6 billion.
Throw in the various corporate “comedy” shows from Saturday Night Live to John Oliver, who operate as little more than thinly disguised ad campaigns for Democrats, PBS, NPR, and every publicly funded media outlet, and the actual messaging spending is in the tens of billions.
The second was to shut out President Trump and Republicans from social media, especially Facebook which reaches the most persuadable voters, at the crucial period before Election Day.
Democrats blamed Trump’s 2016 victory on his reach on Facebook. They spent years prepping the emergency red button. This time Big Tech was ready to shut down the Hunter Biden story.
Meanwhile, Twitter not only clumsily suppressed the Hunter Biden story, its trending topics became little more than election ads for the Democrats. What would it cost a campaign to buy a spot on Twitter’s trending topics, day after day before an election? That’s what Jack’s donating.
Finally, having achieved spectrum dominance, the Democrats would ram their message home, outraising and outspending Republicans to achieve total messaging superiority.
Biden’s underwhelming nature as a candidate, his incoherent speeches, limited campaigning, and lack of enthusiasm is a perfect test to see whether total messaging dominance is enough.
If they can buy an election for Biden, the theory is, they can buy it for anyone.
Now imagine Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez or Rep. Ilhan Omar running for the White House.
But it’s also the ultimate attack on the Electoral College. Blue state power bases like California and New York have long chafed at having the course of the nation be determined by some farmers in flyover country. But while they haven’t succeeded in actually getting rid of rule by a union of states, instead of by New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, Seattle, and San Francisco, the oligarchy is doing the next best thing by using its vast wealth to buy elections nationwide.
Behind ActBlue’s posturing about small donors is a machine for moving money from wealthy lefties in major urban areas to races in places they wouldn’t set foot in. The Democrats want Senate seats and to get at them, $100 million from out of state poured into the campaign fund for Jamie Harrison. Less than 10% of the Democrat’s money came from South Carolina.
Behind the racial appeals and claims of empowering voters, it’s about disempowering them.
And about empowering the oligarchy based out of a small number of powerful urban areas.
As the New York Times noted, “Mr. Biden’s entire financial edge can be accounted for through just four states: California, New York, Massachusetts and Washington.”
The Democrat pulled in over $85 million in New York City alone. All that from a city that may be large but accounts for less than 2% of the nation’s population. And it isn’t all the millions of New Yorkers giving that money. Instead it’s coming from select zip codes with one Upper West Side zip code delivering over $8 million, more than some entire states, for the Biden campaign.
The ultimate question on the 2020 ballot, beyond any of the candidates, is whether this massive concentration of power and wealth that is behind Biden will be allowed to run the country.
Biden is not the real candidate. He’s just a name on the ballot. That’s what many Trump supporters instinctively understand. It’s why Trump’s populism struck a chord. Populism isn’t, as the media would like you to believe, a way of manipulating stupid people. That’s the media.
Populism doesn’t work unless it articulates what many people feel, but that few actually say.
“I think it is fair to say that in many ways the Democratic Party has become a party of the coastal elites, folks who have a lot of money,” Bernie Sanders, a coastal millionaire with three homes, recently admitted on a late night talk show.
Those elites are spending over $1.6 billion not to elect a doddering hack, but to elect themselves. The woke movement is just the successor to generations of radical waves coming out of the wealthiest places in the country whose real message is their own moral superiority.
The Elect believe that they are the only ones who ought to be running the country.
This election is their latest effort to bully, buy, and browbeat the rest of the country into submitting to them. And they can spend $1.6 billion or $1.6 trillion to take over the country.
Oligarchies always have lots of money even when workers go hungry and lose their homes. And they get that money by seizing the centers of power and consuming the wealth of nations.
This is the latest and may be the final showdown between an oligarchy’s lies and a free nation.