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Political Consultant Clawbacks

The financial crisis was made possible in part thanks to the privatization of gains, and socialization of losses. Bank executives could lever up balance sheets 30 to 1 and pocket any gains, while various public institutions were on the hook implicitly or explicitly when the bets turned sour. Very few executives wound up disgorging their gains. There is widespread recognition clawbacks on compensation need to be in place.

In politics the same thing happens. The message with the highest leverage is commonly the most extreme or alarmist charge to motivate base turnout. The extremity of the message is then broadcast expensively in mailers and television. This is the 30 to 1 bet.

The consultant/executive who recommended it gains financially irrespective of the election outcome, or more saliently long term, the health of public discourse.

The more crowded the trade (e.g., any given Democrat is an extreme socialist) the less juice remains over time in it, and the trade can go bad.

Here is the latest example this morning in my mail. It’s for the upcoming State Senate special election:

I believe Raja is a good man, the far better of two State Senate candidates. This is the best conservative organizations can do?

Every voter in the district heard Tom Wolf is a socialist, Conor Lamb is a socialist, and Bob Casey is a socialist. They’re not, and the voters didn’t buy it, giving the “socialists” victory margins of at least 13%. Now they hear Pam Iovino is. Good luck.

The trade is too crowded. It’s lost it’s juice. These messages are just lazy.

Worse, There actually was a socialist the Democrats nominated for State Senate in an adjacent district last year. She won a Republican district because voters tuned out the Socialist charge.

What is the clawback that can be imposed on the consultant class?

Published inPolitics

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