Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Discover all the ways you can make a difference.
Support Icon
The Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams are here to help.

Money Spent on Losing Candidates and Props Makes a Difference

Support Provided By
campaign-money-wendy-greuel-2013
Labor spent a lot of money to support unsuccessful candidate Wendy Greuel. This still is from a union-backed commercial for her. | Image: Screenshot via Working Californians/YouTube

It is estimated that over $50 million was spent on the May 21, 2013 Los Angeles City elections. Approximately 20 percent of registered voters, or 400,000 people, cast a ballot, meaning that more than $100 was spent on each voter. This should be a staggering amount.

People often ask me if money spent on behalf of losing candidates or losing ballot measures makes a difference. There is a common misconception that money spent to support candidates or ballot measures that were unsuccessful is merely wasted. I disagree.

Money spent in elections, whether for victorious or unsuccessful candidates and measures, matters. When large sums are spent in political campaigns, even when that money is used to support candidates or causes that ultimately lose, the money changes the issues discussed in the campaign. Take, for instance, the heavy spending by LADWP's union to support Wendy Greuel. She lost, but it help shape the tenor of the campaign debate throughout the last several months. Candidates responded, in advertisements and debates, to the union's stated concerns.

Additionally, heavy spenders can help dictate the issues addressed once a candidate ultimately becomes a public official. Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti is, at the very least, well versed in the needs and desires of the LADWP union, as well as those who supported him.

(The flip side here is that other issues import to less-well-funded groups were not given the same level of attention.)

Further, money spent by those supporting the losing medical marijuana measures, Ordinances E and F, influenced the messaging behind the unsuccessful medical marijuana measure, Prop D.

So to those who ask if campaign money makes any difference when it is spent to support losing candidates or ballot measures, I say, "absolutely."

Support Provided By
Read More
COP26 Coalition Protestors Take Part In The Global Day of Action for Climate Justice

After a 'Disappointing' UN Climate Summit, California Youth Activists are Back to Work

Youth climate activists have criticized the COP26 pact for being "vague" and failing to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. For one activist, the disappointment with negotiations at the global level inspired him to focus his work more locally in Southern California.
Man looks out into forest from a fire lookout tower.

Lookout Towers Still Play a Role in Fire Monitoring

Thousands of fire lookout towers were built throughout the U.S. in the first half of the 20th century. Today, while satellite and infra-red devices lessen the need for lookouts, they still have a place in the fire monitoring system.
An illustrated logo that says "Ozz Steaks & Seafood"

Like Queer Church on Sundays: Ozz Supper Club Gave Young LGBTQ a Place to Belong

If you remember Ozz Supper Club — popularly known as Ozz — in Buena Park, California, you remember a magical time of budding queerness and mutual bonding at the gay club near Knotts.