Are out-of-state donations ruining our elections? | The Tylt

FINAL RESULTS
Are out-of-state donations ruining our elections?
#EveryoneDoesThat
A festive crown for the winner
#EndOutsideFunds

Local candidates across the country, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Beto O'Rourke, skyrocketed to national prominence during the midterms due to social media and fawning press. With the increased attention has come a surge in money, mostly from out-of-state donors. The money has helped many of these candidates run more aggressive campaigns in competitive races. But some locals worry the out-of-state money is muddying the elections and buying off candidates. What do you think?

Dataviz
Real-time Voting
Are out-of-state donations ruining our elections?
#EveryoneDoesThat
#EndOutsideFunds
#EveryoneDoesThat

Texas Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke raised a staggering $38 million in three months, far surpassing the amount raised by his opponent, Ted Cruz. The financial haul allowed him to run an aggressive campaign against Cruz, crisscrossing the state in his quest to unseat the longterm senator.

Cruz, however, used this influx of money, which largely came from donors outside Texas, as a way to imply O'Rourke was out of touch with actual Texans. Per Vanity Fair:

Cruz, on the other hand, has an enthusiastic base of white conservative evangelicals who regularly vote in midterm elections, and who gobble up Cruz’s message that O’Rourke is a Texas version of a coastal liberal elite, citing his appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, his sordid punk-rock days, and the fact that both Hollywood and the Democratic machine are fund-raising for him in earnest. At one point, Cruz tweeted a photo of the Hollywood sign being changed to “Betowood,” mocking a fund-raiser hosted by Bravo’s Andy Cohen, and an upcoming one hosted by Judd Apatow. 
#EndOutsideFunds

O'Rourke is an anomaly in regards to the sheer amount of money he was able to raise, but he's not unusual in terms of where the money came from. Axios broke down the fundraising numbers for the 2018 election, saying:

More than two thirds of individual contributions to 2018 House candidates came from donors outside of the candidates' districts, and Democrats are out-raising Republicans, according to an Axios analysis of Federal Elections Commission data.
Why it matters: Maybe all politics is national, not local. Americans on both sides of the aisle know that money influences politics. Yet donating to a candidate you can't vote for doesn't always result in a win.
#EndOutsideFunds

PolitiFact analyzed out-of-state campaign money in the 2012 Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election. It reported people were donating to an out-of-state election in hopes of changing political tides around the country.

[Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause Wisconsin], said donors outside of Wisconsin are motivated to give, depending on their political persuasion, because they want to see Walker’s reforms replicated or squelched in other states. The recall is also a "mini-barometer" on the presidential election and the result could give a "psychological boost" either to President Barack Obama or likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney, he said.
#EndOutsideFunds

Yet, even though donating outside of one's home district is common practice, the optics of being funded entirely by outside constituents can be harmful to candidates.

The New York Times reported that many pundits and politicians wondered whether O'Rourke was not so much running for Texas' Senate seat, but trying to increase his profile for an eventual presidential bid.

The deeper tension, which Democrats will mostly only discuss privately while Republicans say it publicly, owes to the question of Mr. O’Rourke’s ultimate ambitions: Does he believe that an unapologetically liberal campaign in a traditionally red state is the best way to win in 2018? Or might he achieve political martyrdom at the hands of a senator Democrats hate and then seek a bigger platform?
“Clearly he’s not running for the United States Senate from Texas,” Senator John Cornyn of Texas said Friday on Laura Ingraham’s talk radio show, adding: “My only suspicion, Laura, is he’s running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.”
#EveryoneDoesThat

Some of these assertions are beginning to play out as the Democratic primary season begins in earnest. Donations, and the donor lists they generate, are seen as one of the clearest indicators of a candidate's potential. According to the New York Times, Sanders has 2.1 million individual online donors.

These online donations average just under $40, and candidates like to point to such modest amounts as evidence of the breadth and depth of their support among regular people.
In the early stages of a presidential race, when polling measures little more than name recognition, the relative size of donor networks can provide one of the best metrics of strength.

Amy Klobuchar made waves after raising $1 million in the first 48 hours after announcing her candidacy for president. These out-of-state donations are helping propel candidates to the front of the pack in their quest for presidency. 

FINAL RESULTS
Are out-of-state donations ruining our elections?
#EveryoneDoesThat
A festive crown for the winner
#EndOutsideFunds