Joel Ebert's analysis of the two-year filings from South Dakota's U.S. Senate candidates provides a nice little test of your personal political bias. Consider the following data on the sources of the campaign cash of Mike Rounds, Rick Weiland, Larry Rhoden, Annette Bosworth, and Stace Nelson:
The first column shows the amount of itemized campaign contributions from South Dakotans. The second shows the amount from out-of-state donors. The third column shows each candidates total from identifiable sources (remember, the Federal Election Commission doesn't require candidates to say where they get individual donations that don't exceed $200). The fourth and fifth columns break down the sources by percentage of each candidate's total.
Here's your quiz: given just the above information, what headline do you write?
- Rounds Gets 82% of Out-State Money in Senate Race
- Weiland Has Highest Percentage of Out-State Cash in Senate Race
- Mike Rounds Gets More Support from South Dakota Donors Than Anyone Else Because Buying an Ad on My Blog Proves that the GOED/EB-5 Scandal Has No Political Implications
- Nelson, Rhoden Real South Dakotans; Bosworth, Weiland, Rounds Depend on Outside Funding
- Rounds Earns $851K in Out-State Donations; Weiland $165K
- Top Candidates Receive More than $1 Million from Outside South Dakota in Senate Race
If you're editing Mike Rounds's local paper, you pick... F!
The blending of Rounds's and Weiland's out-state takes into one headline allows us to lead with a rounder number—land's sakes, Mildred: one million dollars! What's this country coming to...?—but it seems to misleadingly place Rounds and Weiland on the same level (and if I'm Rounds, I'm torqued any time some journalist puts Weiland and me on my level).
I'd really like to know what you take from the above numbers. Is it a bigger deal that Weiland beats Rounds on percentage of out-state cash, 71% to 65%? Or is it a bigger deal that Rounds has raised five times more out-state cash than Weiland has?