A commenter on a previous post suggested that "some ambitious blogger with an economics degree" take the time to review the campaign finance reports recently submitted by the mayoral candidates*.
(*This is not an exact quote...I didn't bother to look it up. Because I don't have to. Because this is a blog. Not NBC.)
I am happy to inform you that almost anyone, regardless of the level of economics accomplishment you've achieved, can successfully analyze a campaign finance report--and I'm here to tell you how.
You don't really need intelligence--what you really need is time. and a cynical attitude. Every person who donates to a campaign has a motive. The most romantic of the motives is altruism--some people donate to campaigns because they truly believe that candidate will be the best for the city. Some donate because they think they will indirectly benefit from the candidate, such as a builder donating to a pro-development candidate. And some people plan to benefit directly, in the form of a job with the incoming administration or some type of business steered their way. Sometimes it's hard to tell one type of donor from another, but here's what you can look for:
-amount of donation. the maximum donation to a mayoral candidate is $2500, and this is typically done by businesses hoping to recoup this cost and then some. If you've got a donor for more than $2500, you've got a violation. If you've got an odd business, you might have a candidate with interests different than those of the citizens of Annapolis.
-type of donors. Individual donors typically represent a grassroots campaign, and business donors typically represent a stakeholder campaign. This is highly generalized but can be a useful tool.
-location of donors. One can assume that the amount of donors from the city proper can be used as proxy for votes, whereas the amount of donors outside of the city proxies either the level of business ties or the amount of friends of that candidate.
-amount of money raised. People like to support a winner, and it can be argued that the amount of money raised by each candidate sets rough odds as to who is the favorite. The caveat is that the people who don't donate money may not vote for candidates proportionate to the amount of donations those candidates receive.
-ending cash on hand. Pretty logical: the more money a candidate has in the bank, the more propaganda they can promulgate between now and the election.
That's about it I think. I'm confident that anyone reading this could look at the campaign reports and come to the same conclusions I would. Hopefully you have more time to do it than me!