Spend any time reading the people whose job it is to assign heady unified field theorems to election years, and you will hear sad variations on a dull theme. The 2014 midterm election is a hard-to-pin-down mystery. No one can figure out what it's supposed to be about. Or maybe the election is about nothing. You know, the null set of things? Or maybe the election is secretly about everything, which is really just a more philosophical way of saying it's about nothing. Which means it's time to break out the "Seinfeld" references, as columnist Bennet Kelley once did for an earlier election cycle:
The 2010 election will be remembered as the Seinfeld of American politics. With one exception, the election results are a lot like the sitcom which was famous for being about nothing. The one exception is the economy where voter discontent is "real and spectacular" but there was no mandate as to how to remedy the problem.
Clever, clever. We could expand on this by saying that the 2014 midterms will be the election where "nobody learns and nobody hugs," and add that probably everyone involved should go to jail for gross dereliction of acting in the interest of public decency.
Still, if this is truly an election about nothing, there's one cohort that didn't get the memo -- namely, the people who fund the expenditures of "outside groups." Here's a Monday blog post from "PBS NewsHour":
Back in April, we wrote that outside spending was on a record-breaking pace. Well, on this first day of fall -- and with 43 days still to go until Election Day -- outside spending has now surpassed the mark for most money ever spent in a midterm election. In fact, the $228 million (and climbing) spent by outside interest groups is not only the most ever spent in a midterm, but it's also more spent in any election except the 2012 presidential election, according to Federal Election Commission data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
That's what the 2014 midterms are about, then. They say that good ideas sell themselves, so it makes sense that this election is requiring a record amount of money to be spent on its behalf.
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