The rise of millionaire candidates is an interesting test of the thesis that money is the be-all and end-all of winning elections. The Center for Responsive Politics compiles lists of candidates who put large amounts of their personal money into elections for the House and Senate. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the results show that the overwhelming majority of them lose and often lose badly.
In 2002, 32 candidates put at least $500,000 of their own money into their campaigns. Only three won their elections. At the top of the list of losers was James F. Humphreys, Democrat of West Virginia, who spent almost $8 million of his own money to lose an election to the House of Representatives. Not far behind were Douglas Forrester, Republican of New Jersey, who invested $7.5 million to lose the Senate, and Erskine Bowles, Democrat of North Carolina, who spent almost $7 million to lose a Senate race in his state.
It's amusing to think of tempting rich people to spend their money on political campaigns as something like a progressive tax, but it may actually increase variation in wealth if the few who win come out wealthier as a result. Anyone know if they do?
Link thanks to Marginal Revolution.