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No, Jeb Bush's Failed Campaign Doesn't Mean Citizens United Doesn't Matter

Sean McElwee

In a recent report, Demos and the Public Interest Research Group showed how many viable candidates, including many candidates of color, struggle to compete against better-funded incumbents.

Candidates know this, and they spend their time courting big donors, which determines both whose concerns they address and who sits at the table afterward and on legislative priorities. As Sen. Chris Murphy notes when he was doing fundraisers, “I talked a lot more about carried interest inside of that call room than I did in the supermarket.” The deepest problem is inequality of voice: Low-income individuals, women and people of color make up a vanishingly small portion of donations. The problem is magnified in the big donor era, in which donors have even more influence over campaigns.