It’s obscenely late and Michele Bachmann, who should have won her seat by now, is only up by 600 votes. Over the course of her campaign, Bachmann, one of the strongest fundraisers in the House, raised almost $12 million. The more extreme she gets, the more money she rakes in. But it’s harder than you might think to buy votes, especially on a night when all the momentum seems to be in the direction of the other party.
Hotelier Jim Graves didn’t raise $12 million. He raised more like $2 million, but he’s the millionaire with the capacity to lend his campaign extra cash whenever necessary. So this is a strange race for liberals who are uncomfortable with the idea of race-buying. Bachmann has a huge network of small individual donations. Graves is a wealthy businessman spending a lot of his own money in order to make up for a lack of name recognition. “You see,” Bachmann said in an October fundraising email, “my wealthy opponent is on pace to spend millions on TV to defeat me. You already know he is worth up to $111 million dollars—so spending millions is nothing to him.”
Graves is probably drawing votes from Republicans and Independents who are, according to the Graves supporter quoted here, “embarrassed” by their representative. Relying on Minnesotans’ capacity for embarrassment seems like a solid strategy to me, but it’s too early to know whether it worked, and Bachmann generally doesn’t win by huge margins.