In Big States, It Helps to Have Big Wealth to Spend on a Primary

In California, two very wealthy former CEOs, Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, both won their respective statewide primaries with large margins. The size of their victories was in no small part due to their ability to spend large amounts of their own money in a large state with many diverse and expensive media markets. Spending big on your own primary campaign is also helping two millionaire political newcomers in Florida, according to a recent Quinnipac poll.
Political neophyte Rick Scott has surged to a 44-31 percent lead over Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum in the race for the Republican nomination for governor, apparently powered by a multi-million-dollar television ad blitz to introduce him to voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

In the contest for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination, Jeff Greene, another political unknown with deep pockets, is following a similar approach of large TV ad spending to move into a statistical dead heat with Kendrick Meek, the independent Quinnipiac University survey finds: Meek gets 29 percent to Greene's 27 percent with former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre at 3 percent. The biggest number, 37 percent, are undecided.

That is an impressive display of the power of big campaign spending, especially in states with several expensive media markets. Scott has never held important office and is best known for his anti-health care ads. He has a huge lead over McCollum, even though McCollum is a veteran politician who has previously won statewide office and has the backing of the state party establishment.

Greene is an extremely wealthy man who’s come out of nowhere to pull into a tie with Meek. Meek was expected to walk to the nomination until Greene jumped in at the last minute. Meek has been in Florida politics for years, has the support of the party establishment and boasts the endorsement of big names like Bill Clinton.

Here are two serious, long-term politicians who are not polling well compared with their self-financed, wealthy opponents. As the August 24 primary approaches and voters focus more on the election, we will see if the benefits of being able to spend big hold up.

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