Iowa Caucuses

Dollar for Dollar, Jeb Bush Was Tonight's Biggest Loser

Tell us about the dangers of Citizens United again.


The universal hand gesture for lowering your expectations.
Credit: Gage Skidmore / photo on flickr

The first candidate to come out and give a big speech celebrating victory was Sen. Marco Rubio, which probably struck a few folks as odd given that he came in third, just slightly behind Donald Trump. But he is definitely a competitive candidate.

More importantly, he was probably celebrating kicking Jeb Bush's well-funded ass. Bush landed down in sixth place, behind Ben Carson and Sen. Rand Paul. Bush has the most campaign cash raised on his behalf of any of the Republicans. The only other candidate to have raised more money than Bush is Hillary Clinton, she of the alleged animosity toward the Citizens United decision, which freed up Americans to independently spend money on behalf of campaigns and causes. Check out the most recent campaign spending numbers here. Bush has twice as much money as Rubio.

What did $155.6 million buy Bush? A whopping 2.8 percent of the vote in Iowa. Right to Rise, the Super PAC bankrolling Bush, targeted not just Trump but Rubio for attack ads, including such brilliant hits like this one:

And then he walked all over Bush. Iowa, of course, far from the last word on the race. Polls have Bush ahead of Rubio and competitive with Cruz (and Ohio Gov. John Kasich) in New Hampshire. But tonight's lesson on campaign spending should be very clear: Money helps magnify your voice, but when what you have to say is stupid and insipid, it doesn't exactly help you buy votes.