On Sunday's Up with Chris Hayes, host Chris Hayes asked five Democratic House candidates how much time per day they had to spend fundraising in order to stay competitive. Even if you're already concerned about money in politics, the answers may surprise you.
Rob Zerban, the House candidate running against Paul Ryan in Wisconsin, said "seventy five percent" of his time was spent fundraising.
Hakeem Jeffries, House candidate in New York: "I'd say greater than 50 percent."
Cynthia Dill, Senate candidate in Maine: "We spend about 25 hours a week in call time."
Nate Shinagawa, House candidate in New York: "I spend about 25 hours a week too."
Kyrsten Sinema, House candidate in Arizona, didn't provide a direct answer, but said, "I'll tell you, it's expensive. We spent almost a million dollars in the primary, [and] we have to do that same amount again in the general."
Hayes has argued elsewhere that these conditions can alienate elected officials from their constituents, with disastrous results. In his book Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy, he wrote:
Being a professional politician is a bizarre, consuming, and alienating life, deeply abnormal in nearly all of its particulars. You spend hours a day begging wealthy people for money; you are constantly traveling, constantly in the presence of staff. Almost every interaction you have is with someone who wants something from you, and even during the most mundane moments, a trip to an ice cream shop with your son, say, you must be "on." In the same way an NBA star lives a life that is profoundly removed from the reality of the vast majority of Americans, so, too, does an politician successful enough to make a credible run for president of the United States.
As Lean Forward has previously reported, research suggests that the importance of fundraising to politics has created an environment in which middle class and lower income voters' preferences have virtually no influence on which policies government enacts.