But if technical difficulties really made a full accounting infeasible, Silver’s post could have at least noted for readers the significant share of campaign spending unaccounted for in his analysis. The key principle is that outside spending has reshaped the campaign finance landscape, and it’s crucial for reporters and observers of money in politics to account for it as they inform the public about how elections are waged. Hopefully, Silver will find a way to include this information should he bring his formidable analytical skills to examining campaign finance in the future.

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Sasha Chavkin covers political money and influence for CJR's United States Project, our politics and policy desk. He has written for ProPublica, the Center for Public Integrity, and The New York World. Follow him on Twitter @sashachavkin.