Progressive philanthropist-in-chief George Soros has recently suffered a highly public setback with the electoral loss of his beneficiary and close personal friend, Hillary Clinton. All told, Soros had spent more than $25 million both directly and through various PACs in a bid to see Clinton into the White House. This represents a tough loss for Soros, his second in big-money presidential politics. And it has, by some accounts, resulted in his vow to make it his last foray into White House runs.
Spiritual successor to Andrew Carnegie
But it is worth remembering that even though Soros has funneled more than $52 million dollars into presidential politics, he has spent well in excess of $13 billion dollars globally since commencing philanthropic activities in the ’70s. Under that flood of green light, his huge presidential losses fade to obscurity.
Soros has perhaps given away more money than any American since Andrew Carnegie. Even though much of his philanthropic investment has been concentrated overseas, he has donated huge sums within the U.S. as well. George Soros continues doing so today through his various PACs, by strategically channeling money into largely ignored local elections. Often times, the lessons from these small local donations have been similar to those frequently gleaned from investing – smaller investments often times have much higher returns. The reasons for this are manifold but the most important one is that sophisticated big-money tends to overlook small-time opportunities.
Small investments, big wins
Recently, Soros has enjoyed a string of small-time wins, the strategic sum of which may exceed its many parts. In particular, Soros has concentrated on blindsiding conservative incumbents by swooping in and infusing their opponents’ campaigns with decisive amounts of funding. These instances have, so far, mostly been restricted to high-value targets like the election of prosecutors and judges. These positions within the U.S. criminal justice system wield outsize power and have the discretion to materially shape local execution of justice.
One example of such a case was the recent election of Orlando progressive prosecutor Aramis Ayala. Prior to a George Soros vehicle providing her campaign with over $1.4 million, nearly the totality of her campaign’s funds, she had minimal chances of overcoming her well heeled, well-known incumbent opponent, Jeff Ashton. However, Soros’ largess quickly turned the tables. Through massive use of television commercials Ayala was able to squeeze Ashton out of the race. Her platform largely consisted of righting historical disparities in both sentencing and arrest that had plagued Orlando minorities for years, and which plague continued throughout her opponent’s tenure.
Victories like this are colorful feathers in Soros’ grand strategic hat for two reasons. First, prosecutors like Ms. Ayala can start effecting major change immediately upon taking office. In general, a president has very little power but that power is dispersed quite widely, so that taken in total it adds up to a lot. Conversely, a prosecutor has immense power, but can only exercise it within very narrow bounds.
That Soros has prevailed, not just on Ms. Ayala’s behalf, but on behalf of dozens of such candidates across the country, should indicate that he’s found another winning strategy and intends on seeing it through to ultimate victory.