The massive amount of outside political spending unleashed by Citizens United did not, as feared, make it easier for rich people to buy an election. Instead, it showed that rich people are pretty dumb about politics. Take the billionaire businessmen Charles and David Koch who are spending their 2013 figuring out why they the money they spent in 2012 was such a waste. They have already fired most of their 100 staffers at Americans for Prosperity, and they're now conducting an audit.
Like American Crossroads and the Republican National Committee, the Koch brothers are trying to figure out why they couldn't beat President Obama -- and several Democratic Senate candidates in red states. The Kochs have delayed their twice-a-year meetings with big conservative donors until they've finished their audit, Politico's Kenneth P. Vogel reports. The results of the audit will be presented at an April seminar, Vogel writes, adding, "Early indications suggest that they'll continue playing in politics but will tweak their approach to reflect 2012 lessons."
Earlier reports indicate they need a pretty significant tweak. BuzzFeed reported in September that GOP political people were annoyed by the how poorly outside money was being spent money in the most intense part of the campaign season:
The Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity has drawn particular grumbling for ads whose goal, critics say, is more about ideology than victory in November, its daily message determined, one rival SuperPAC operative jabbed, by "whatever the Koch brothers had for breakfast."
In August, while Mitt Romney was bashing Obama for easing welfare requirements, Americans for Prosperity was running ads about Solyndra.
In December, The National Review posted the email Charles Koch sent to his "inner circle" explaining the postponed annual seminar:
Despite November’s disappointing election results, I am convinced that America’s long-term decline is far from a foregone conclusion. Our goal of advancing a free and prosperous America is even more difficult than we envisioned, but it is essential that we continue, rather than abandon, this struggle.
We are working hard to understand the election results, and based on that analysis, to re-examine our vision and the strategies and capabilities required for success. Although some of the needed changes are already evident, it will be several months before the state data necessary to complete this analysis is available.
Vogel reports one result of that reexamination is the creation of a new secret money group, Association for American Innovation, and they're keeping a Latino-outreach group called Libre Initiative. This is the GOP's current internal debate in a nutshell: Do we need to change our ideas? Or just the packaging? Given Marco Rubio's State of the Union response restating Mitt Romney's platform, it seems both the party and the Kochs are leaning toward the latter.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.