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Turns out a shutdown is a great time for politicians to raise money

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) appears at a press conference on September 30, 2013 after the Senate voted to table House legislation to avert a government shutdown by defunding the Affordable Health.

Politicians argued and speechified until midnight last night, when funding for the federal government ran out.

The government shutdown was also an opportunity for them to raise money. Both political parties were sending out e-mails, asking for donations.

“Political crises beget political fundraising,” Sheila Krumholz says. She is the executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. “Any time there is a partisan stalemate or quagmire, politicians and their operatives are going to try to capitalize on that frustration.”

They know that their base is watching or listening or tweeting, that they are following what’s happening closely, and most importantly, that they are probably passionate about it.

“I suppose it’s a reflection of our kind of curious and complex notion of generosity,” Ross Baker says. He teaches political science at Rutgers.

According to Krumholz, that may be especially true when their pleas for donations are pegged to a shutdown.

“It is ironic that the money may start flowing to politicians and parties once it stops flowing to government workers,” she says. “It’s this kind of shift from one side to the other.”

And that is a shift that can happen very quickly thanks to the Internet.

About the author

David Gura is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.
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