Tom Keane is quick to criticize the “People’s Pledge” (“The ‘People’s Pledge’ shouldn’t migrate north,” Op-ed, March 23). He’s not so quick to back his critique with facts.
Keane implies that the pledge did not reduce negative campaigning, but under the pledge in the Senate race between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren, only 36 percent of television advertisements were negative, compared with 84 percent negative ads in similar US Senate races in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Virginia. In these states, 95 percent of ads from outside groups were negative. When candidates have to stand by their ads, they are more positive.
In addition, Keane confuses outside-group money with out-of-state money. The former is covered by the pledge, but the latter is not. A large percentage of outside-group money is undisclosed. So-called dark money constituted around 20 percent of total spending in other states, compared with 4 percent in Massachusetts. Outside-group money is also dominated by a few huge donors. The top 15 super PAC donors elsewhere gave an average of $7.6 million each.
True, the pledge is often suggested for personal political advantage. But whatever the motives, the ultimate winners of elections devoid of “dark,” big-money political contributions and an endless barrage of negative ads are not the candidates, but the voters.