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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

CA: What Meg Whitman Learned from Mike Bloomberg

Ken McLaughlin writes in The San Jose Mercury News:

"One of the things Whitman learned from Bloomberg is that you spend whatever it takes to hire the best political consultants you can by making them offers they can't refuse," said Doug Muzzio, a professor of public policy at Baruch College, part of the City University of New York. "You then spend freely on sophisticated focus groups, polls and databases. Then you just keep spending and spending until you've got the election" clinched.

Another similar tactic: Selling voters on the notion that "I'm so rich that no one can buy me." Like Bloomberg, Whitman started advertising extremely early, building to a crescendo as the primary election approached.

Whitman also adopted Bloomberg's tactic of "microtargeting" voters. Eight years before Whitman's campaign began, Team Bloomberg perfected the art of using phone surveys and overlapping marketing and political databases to fill mailboxes with messages tailored to a voter's ethnicity, income level and political leanings.

"They knew you were making $50,000 a year, had a 401(k), drove a Prius and shopped at Bed Bath & Beyond," Muzzio said.

Friday, July 30, 2010

CA: The Man with a Plan that Nobody Knows

In The Los Angeles Times, Seema Mehta sensibly asks whether policy proposals can have much political effect if nobody hears about them:

Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman has been hitting Democratic rival Jerry Brown hard for offering no plans to deal with the state’s myriad problems. Earlier this week, Brown responded by posting education and environmental proposals on his website.

Although the substance marked a change from the summer’s bickering over who forgot to pay taxes, or who accepted whose challenge to debate, it’s unclear how many voters actually heard about the proposals.

A smattering of media outlets covered the plans, perhaps because few knew about them. Brown’s campaign didn’t announce their unveiling or send out press releases touting their contents, as is customary when a candidate announces something.

The candidate posted a solitary Twitter comment about the education plan, including a link. No one mentioned the environment plan.

Visitors to Brown’s website can find the documents if they venture beyond the home page, into the “Fighting for You” section

American Crossroads and Texas Money

Wayne Slater reports in The Dallas Morning News:

Dallas oilman Trevor Rees-Jones may not know Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but he's betting $1 million that he can make the Nevada Democrat's political life more difficult these days.

Rees-Jones is helping bankroll a group spearheaded by Karl Rove and funded largely by Texans to air TV spots attacking Reid and other Democrats.

Virginia-based American Crossroads has raised $4.7 million – two-thirds of it from Texans – for a national effort. Three Dallas billionaires are providing much of the money.

Rees-Jones, president and CEO of privately held Chief Oil and Gas, and investors Harold Simmons and Robert Rowling have given $1 million each. Of 29 donors to American Crossroads, 20 are from the Lone Star State.

So far, the effort has been aimed at unseating Reid in Nevada and defeating Rep. Joe Sestak, the Democratic Senate nominee in Pennsylvania, with TV ads in their home states. Both face stiff Republican challenges.

Rove, who was George W. Bush's chief political adviser, and former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie are helping American Crossroads and raising money.

Jonathan Collegio of American Crossroads said the committee's "fund-raising and membership isn't based on geography, though we happen to have some donors in Texas who believe strongly in what we're doing."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

CA: Environment and the PPIC Poll

Carla Marinucci reports at the San Francisco Chronicle:

Californians' opposition to offshore oil drilling has skyrocketed in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, while two-thirds of residents support the state's landmark climate change law and believe it will create jobs, a new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California shows.

The findings present a challenge for Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman and U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, who like the idea of drilling as a revenue source for the state and want to back away from the climate law, saying it's a job-killer.

At the same time, the poll shows that Whitman, who has spent nearly $91 million of her own money, lags behind Jerry Brown, her Democratic rival in the November election, 37 to 34 percent. Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO, trails Democratic incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer 39 to 34 percent.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

CA: Fiorina and Boxer

Michele Clock reports in The San Diego Union-Tribune:

In a San Diego campaign stop to showcase her support for veterans, Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina again criticized Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer for backing the federal economic stimulus act and questioned her support for the military.

Surrounded by about 60 people, many of them veterans, at the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in Balboa Park on Tuesday, Fiorina said the stimulus act has actually cost jobs rather than helping create them. Boxer says just the opposite.

“Barbara Boxer will claim that things are getting better because of that $862 billion stimulus package,” Fiorina said. “She will claim that things are getting better, but in fact things have gotten worse since that stimulus bill passed."

A recent Boxer comment has given ammunition to critics of her record on the military. The Daily Caller reports:

At a campaign event over the weekend in Inglewood, California, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer seemingly equated being a politician to serving in the military –- and an Iraq War veteran supporting Boxer’s November opponent is calling on her to apologize.
“We know that if you have veterans in one place where they can befriend each other and talk to each other. You know when you’ve gone through similar things you need to share it. I don’t care whether you are a policeman or a fireman or a veteran or by chance a member of Congress,” the California senator said. “[Democratic Rep.] Maxine [Waters] and I could look at each other and roll our eyes. We know what we are up against. And it is hard for people who are not there to understand the pressure and the great things that go along with it and the tough things that go along with it.”
“Barbara Boxer’s disrespectful comments underscore just how out of touch she has become after her 28 years in Washington,“ Veterans for Carly Coalition Co-Chairman Lt. Commander Paul Chabot said in a press release, in response to Boxer’s comments. “Equating the experiences of members of Congress with those of brave soldiers who have fought to defend our country is just the latest example in a failed career marked by disrespect for our men and women in uniform.”

Not everything is going well for the Fiorina campaign, as David Siders reports for The Sacramento Bee:

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina might have picked the wrong restaurant to announce her Latino outreach effort.

Fiorina said at a campaign stop at Texas Mexican Restaurant in Sacramento last month that she was pleased to be supported by people like Griselda Barajas, a member of the Sacramento Metro Chamber's board and owner of Griselda's Catering, which hosted the event.

Barajas, a Democrat, was undecided at the time.

Not anymore. Barajas is endorsing incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, Boxer's campaign said Monday.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Obama and Bush: Who's the Bigger Liability?

"Our current data brings into question the notion that you can run against Bush and win," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Obviously Bush is not popular. The question is: Does it help Obama to run against the past in debating the future?"

A Quinnipiac survey last week found that Obama's "political honeymoon ended," and put his job approval rating at a new low of 44%. When voters were asked whether he was a better president than Bush, 42% said yes, and 32% said no. The gap was narrower among voters who identify themselves as independents, a potentially troublesome finding for Democrats.

Two years removed from an electoral wave created by President Barack Obama that swept Democrats into wide Congressional majorities, the chief executive's numbers have faltered badly in a number of contested states -- raising concerns that he could be a drag on Democratic candidates this fall.

A new independent poll in Missouri paints a grim picture for the president. Obama's job approval rating stood at just 34 percent with the overall electorate; among independents the numbers were even worse with just 27 percent approving of the job Obama is doing and 63 percent disapproving.

Go deeper into the poll and the numbers don't get any better. With the economy shaping up to be the dominant issue in the campaign across the country this fall, just one in three Missouri voters approved of Obama's handling of it; among independents a whopping 68 percent disapprove of how the president had handled the economy.

Reversal of Fortune

In the late Bush years, Democrats scored huge gains because of:
  • the president's unpopularity,
  • a protracted war,
  • a shaky economy,
  • corruption in high places, and
  • a botched response to a disaster.
Consider the world of 2010:
  • From Gallup: "President Obama averaged 47.3% job approval during his sixth quarter in office, spanning April 20-July 19 -- his lowest quarterly average to date. Americans' approval of Obama has declined at least slightly in each quarter of his presidency."
  • From the LA Times: "The leaking of a trove of U.S. documents has put the Obama administration on the defensive about its Afghanistan policy and may deepen doubts in Congress about prospects for turning around the faltering war effort."
  • From The Washington Post: "Many forecasters expect a [2d quarter GDP] number in the 2.1 percent range, reflecting the fact that corporate efforts to rebuild inventories and fiscal stimulus are fading. That pace of growth would be below the long-term growth trajectory of the U.S. economy and would indicate a weakening recovery."
  • From The New York Daily News: "While many of Rep. Charlie Rangel's friends are keeping their distance - including the White House today - the Republican Party is reveling in the mess entangling the Harlem Democrat."
  • From The Washington Post: "A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows disapproval of President Obama's handling of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico edging higher nationally, and in the most affected counties on the Gulf Coast, disapproval outpaces approval by nearly 3 to 1."

CA: Brown's Dilemma

Clint Reilly, who ran Kathleen Brown's 1994 campaign, reflects on campaigning against a foe with superior resources:

As we entered July, Wilson had a huge financial advantage. Ultimately, he outspent us by more than 2.5 to 1 during the time I worked for Brown. Because we were decisively behind during the summer, I chose to spend money during the summer to close the gap. I reasoned that unless we were in the hunt after Labor Day, Wilson’s vastly superior bank account would bury us at the end.

As it turned out, bad polls in September and October choked off our fundraising and we ran out of money.

Of course I was roundly criticized. Press, pundits and competitors fed on my carcass for weeks after Brown lost badly in November. At a well attended UC Berkeley post mortem on the race in January 1995 – ill-timed on my birthday – I remarked that I felt like a cadaver at my own autopsy

Campaign professionals – like sports coaches – are often confronted with two unpalatable options. In 2006, then-Treasurer Phil Angelides faced the same problem against Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Behind in the summer and drained from a costly primary against Steve Westly, Angelides decided not to compete with Arnold’s summer television blitz. By September he was so far behind that he was never able to make a dent in the Governor’s 20-point lead. Angelides lost by the same margin as Kathleen Brown.

This year, Whitman’s summer assault by mid-June had already closed a post primary gap of 5 points enjoyed by Brown. Now, I believe, she has already moved ahead by mid-single digits . Unanswered, she will reach Labor Day with an insurmountable head start.

Reilly concludes that Brown needs independent expenditures by labor in order to survive. But labor's stance is more anti-Whitman than pro-Brown, as the LA Times reports:

The television ads seize on the millions of dollars organized labor is spending to help elect Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, warning that if he's victorious, he would be "their governor."

Labor leaders watching the spots, which are funded by billionaire GOP nominee Meg Whitman, should be so lucky.

Unions are indeed reaching deep into their pockets to help Brown, whose campaign needs the cash to compete with Whitman's personal fortune. But how much return they will get on their investment under a Brown governorship is unclear.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Self-Financers as Outsiders

The New York Times reports:

Call it the Great Recession paradox. Even as voters express outrage at the insider culture of big bailouts and bonuses, their search for political saviors has led them to this: a growing crowd of über-rich candidates, comfortable in boardrooms and country clubs, spending a fortune to remake themselves into populist insurgents.


Through just the second quarter of the year, at least 42 House and Senate candidates — 7 Democrats and 35 Republicans — in 23 states had already donated $500,000 or more of their own money to their campaigns, according to the most recent data available from the Center for Responsive Politics. That list does not even include governors’ races, and the roster promises to grow as the campaign season progresses and spending escalates.

Historically, self-financed candidates have tended to lose. The National Institute on Money in State Politics recently found that of those candidates who received more than half of all campaign contributions from themselves or an immediate family member, only 11 percent won from 2000 to 2009.

But this year might be different, with a down economy making it harder for traditional candidates to raise money, and with anti-incumbency fever at record levels.

Tonal Populism and Political Populism

In The Weekly Standard, James Ceaser analyzes "tonal populism" and "political populism." The former "refers to a style of politics that disdains pretension and insists on the virtue of the plain and the down-to-earth." Politicians can prosper without practicing tonal populism but they run into trouble when they offend it. President Obama has done so with his remarks on bitter clingers and police who act "stupidly." Ceaser goes on:

Obama’s distance from tonal populism led many to think that he was ill-suited for engaging in populist appeals of any kind. But whether awkward in the task or not, Obama has taken to “political” populism in a most assertive way. Political populism involves pitting one part of the community against another in order to generate energy and boost popularity. Like tonal populism, it identifies a popular “us” (“the people”) and an oligarchic “them” (the “elite” or “special interests”), but, not content merely to establish sympathies and associations, it goes on to promise important policy changes, such as punishing the biggest interests and spreading the wealth around.

There is both a leftist and a rightist version of political populism. The left speaks of an economic power elite that is manipulating the system to its advantage, oppressing the people. The right speaks of a class of experts bent on using public authority to transform morals and run people’s lives. The left will resolve the problem by taking on Big Capital; the right by confronting Big Government. These two versions reflect parts of the genuine public philosophies of liberalism and conservatism, with the result that elements of the two populisms are apt to appear in public discourse as genuine arguments. But political populism in its full sense occurs when the populist themes become the core of the presentation, deployed to win support and boost or solidify opinion. Politicians clearly know when they are “going populist.” When the president launches an attack on a Supreme Court decision for aiding “Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans,” there is no mystery in what he is up to. Subtlety is rarely a feature of a populist appeal.

Populism as a technique is often contrasted with a statesman-like tone, which normally aims to appeal to reason and tamp down conflict and division. Statesmanship in the highest sense is the management of affairs for the public good, which in rare cases may require an approach that divides. But the statesman only adopts this path when necessary and never for mere political gain. The usual posture of the statesman is calming and deliberate, which is what is meant by the term “presidential.” To engage in populism and parallel demagogic tricks—to blame others, to mock, to display no magnanimity toward opponents—all of these actions necessarily appear unpresidential. They are fitting for campaigns, but they make a president look smaller.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Best and the Brightest 2.0

The insiderism/outsiderism theme, the subject of a previous post, continues to cast light on contemporary politics. Neal Gabler points out that the president is part of a a new establishment:

So it is really no surprise that he has packed his administration with what one might call The Best and the Brightest 2.0 — people who are as dispassionate and rational and suspicious of emotion as the president prides himself as being: a bunch of cool, unflappable customers. (The exceptions are Vice President Joe Biden and chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.) Like The Best and the Brightest 1.0, these folks — guys like Larry Summers, outgoing budget director Peter Orszag, and Tim Geithner, on the economic side; and William J. Lynn 3d, deputy secretary of defense, and James Steinberg, deputy secretary of state, on the foreign side — are Ivy-educated, confident, and implacable realists and rationalists. Like their forebears, they have all the answers, which is why they have been so unaccommodating of other suggestions on the economy, where economists have been pressing them for more stimulus, or on Afghanistan, where the president keeps doubling down his bets.

The difference between 1.0 and 2.0 is that 2.0 are not all Protestant, white males sprung full-blown from the Establishment as 1.0’s fathers and their fathers’ fathers were. Like Obama himself, they are by and large onetime middle-class overachievers who made their way into the Ivy League and then catapulted to the top levels of class and power by being . . . well, the best and the brightest. But in elitism as in religion, no one is more devout than a convert, and these people, again like Obama, all having been blessed by the Ivy League, also embrace Ivy League arrogance and condescension. On this, the Republican critics are right: The administration exudes a sense of superiority.
In their own way, the Best and the Brightest 2.0 are just as parochial as their predecessors. Just as the 1960s version thought that game theory could end the Vietnam War, the new version thinks that cultural sensitivity will sever the roots of Islamic fascism. And in domestic politics, many of them just do not "get" the kind of people who show up at tea party rallies.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

RNC Woes and Work-Arounds

The Washington Post reports:
The Republican National Committee filed amended financial reports Tuesday showing about $3 million in debt for April and May that was previously unreported.

RNC Treasurer Randy Pullen said in a memo to the party's budget committee that he had discovered unpaid bills for telemarketing, legal consulting and other services. Pullen accused RNC Chairman Michael S. Steele's chief of staff of hiding invoices and telling staff members to withhold information from Pullen.

Former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman avoided questions about his interest in leading the RNC in an interview Friday but pointedly noted the party's woes under Chairman Michael Steele.

"The reality is that there have been concerns about the RNC, that's a reality," Coleman told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "Fundraising hasn't been what a lot of folks would like, et cetera."

Coleman heads a third-party conservative group called the American Action Network, which has helped fill the fundraising void left by the national party's cash shortage.

But, as POLITICO reported Thursday, he has also begun talking to high-level Republicans about a bid to become RNC Chairman when Steele's term is up in January

Ben reported recently that Republican Governors Association chairman Haley Barbour took a swipe at embattled RNC chairman Michael Steele in a closed-door reception, saying he had to raise his own budget by $10 million because the spending/raising woes at his counterpart.

Now, it turns out the RGA is taking it a step further - setting up so-called "victory fund" operations, long the province of the RNC, in various states around the country, according to sources who attended the group's recent conference in Aspen.

Nick Ayers, the executive director of the RGA - which raised an astonishing $19 million in the last quarter - told a meeting of donors about the move, which started well before this week's latest round of stories about fundraising and spending woes at the RNC.

American Crossroads is another work-around, as Samantha King writes at The Washington Examiner:
Steele’s actions have also left a widening gap for the conservative elite to blast through his defenses and take RNC’s donor base. Rove set up American Crossroads among major Republican players to change the direction of GOP and offer an alternative outlet to the corrupt working of the RNC

And despite the group's description of itself as "grassroots," Salon's review of its IRS filings show that four billionaires have contributed 97 percent of the $4.7 million it has raised to date. There are no limits on how much corporations, unions, and individuals can donate to 527 groups. Here's a guide to American Crossroads' four donors:

  • Trevor Rees-Jones, president of Dallas-based Chief Oil and Gas, gave a $1 million donation to American Crossroads just as the group was starting in April. That's small money for Rees-Jones, who, Forbes estimated in 2009, amassed a $1.5 billion fortune investing in gas prospects around America. He has also been a big donor to John McCain and the Texas Republican Party, Politico reported.
  • Bradley Wayne Hughes, chairman of Public Storage Inc, is American Crossroads' biggest donor, contributing $1.55 million to date. Hughes founded Public Storage in 1972 and the company has grown into a self-storage behemouth with over 2,000 locations. Worth $3.9 billion, he lives in Lexington, KY, where he actively raises thoroughbred horses at Spendthrift Farm. (Hughes' son, B. Wayne Hughes Jr., is on the board of former Senator Norm Coleman's new conservative group, the American Action Network.)
  • A company called Southwest Louisiana Land LLC donated $1 million to American Crossroads in June. It turns out Southwest, which doesn't have much of a public footprint, is owned by Dallas billionaire investor Harold Simmons -- no stranger to conservative causes. Since the 1980s, he has ponied up for everthing from Oliver North's defense fund, to Newt Gingrich's PAC, to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004, to the American Issues Project, a group that ran ads attempting to tie Obama to Bill Ayers in 2008 (Simmons was the sole funder of the Ayers effort, giving nearly $3 million.) Simmons is worth $4.5 billion.
  • TRT Holdings, owned by Dallas' Robert Rowling, gave American Crossroads $1 million. Rowling, whose firm owns Omni Hotels and Gold's Gym, got started at his father's successful company, Tana Oil & Gas. He's now worth $4.4 billion. In 2004 Rowling gave $1 million to Progress for America, an outside group backing President Bush's reelection.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Filling Gaps in the White House Website, Part 45

On ABC's "Good Morning America," Elisabeth Leamy took a nonconfrontational approach to the president:

LEAMY: I just want to ask about -- it just seems so significant that you passed health care reform.


LEAMY: You've passed financial regulatory reform, this historic legislation.

OBAMA: Right.

LEAMY: And yet the latest poll shows your job approval rating hitting a new low of 44 percent.

OBAMA: Right.

LEAMY: And many people say this apparent paradox is because of the economy.

So what I'm wondering is, has the economy gone from being something that you inherited to becoming your own problem?

OBAMA: Well, I think that happened the day I was sworn in. The -- look, look, you know, when you're president of the United States, you're responsible. You -- you inherit stuff. In -- in our case, we inherited, obviously, the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression. And we have taken a number of steps so that rather than losing 750,000 jobs a month, we're gaining jobs; rather than contracting at 6 percent a year, we're -- the economy is growing again.

But the hole that was dug was very deep. When you lose eight million jobs, you're not going to recover those jobs quickly. When companies were so fearful that they had to pull back that drastically, that creates a negative cycle that reversing is hard. And I think that we are on the right path. We're moving in the right direction. But it's hard and people are going to be impatient, understandably, because if you don't have a job right now or if you are trying to figure out how to pay the bills or if your 401(k) has recovered 60 percent, but it's still not what you expected and you're about to retire, you know, even if you hear the president say we're on the right track and we've improved, you're -- you're still going to be frustrated about how slow the progress is.

And so I am completely understanding of that. And that's why what I've tried to do is simply make the best choices for the American people each and every day. I wake up and I say to myself, what can I do today that's going to help ordinary, hardworking Americans get back on their feet and how can we make sure that this economy is growing and moving so that our kids have opportunity?

Rattled Liberals

Do liberals think that there is a “vast right-wing conspiracy,” or is it just a boogeyman that they exploit in order to raise money? Recent evidence suggests that a good number of them really believe it. First came the leaked Journolist emails, where leftist writers shared their concerns about the right, with one saying that he was “genuinely scared” of Fox News. Then came the Shirley Sherrod story, where the Obama administration forced a USDA official to quit because of what conservatives might say about her comments on race. When the administration had to walk back her ouster, the White House press secretary denied that the right had rattled the administration.

When you need to say that you’re not rattled, you are.

What gives? Anyone who really knows conservatives and Republicans has to laugh at talk of their unity and ruthless efficiency. The two groups — which are not identical and are in tension with each other — are both deeply factionalized. As for “ruthless efficiency,” I have only two words: Michael Steele.

There are two main reasons for liberals’ exaggerated fears.

The first is generic to political battle. Political scientist Robert Jervis has shrewdly observed: “Domestic groups in conflict see the other side as more unified than it is. In local labor-management disputes each side is apt to believe incorrectly that the other is controlled from above. Both Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives see the other party as the one that is more organized and disciplined.” In his excellent book, The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement, Steven Teles refers to this phenomenon as “the myth of diabolical competence.” (And yes, it works both ways: conservatives sometimes overstate liberal unity and power.)

The second reason is that many liberals think that the other side is not just mistaken, but illegitimate, even evil. In 2006, as Naftali Bendavid reports in The Thumpin’, then-Congressman Rahm Emanuel told staffers why they had to beat the Republicans. “Because these are bad people. And they deserve a two-by-four upside their head.” The Journolist emails are full of such talk. Folks with this frame of mind think their foes could not possibly win without mass hypnosis or some other unfair advantage. A few years ago, we saw a spate of books attributing Republican success to the demonic powers of Karl Rove and Frank Luntz. Democratic victories in 2006 and 2008 temporarily muted the “evil genius” theme, but now it seems to be back.

Unfortunately for liberals, there is an element of self-fulfillment at work. In politics, as in sports and warfare, it’s hard to win when you let your opponents get so far inside your head.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Democratic Model for American Crossroads GPS

At The Huffington Post, Sam Stein reports:

During the 2008 campaign, a group of Democratic operatives essentially tried to create its own version of American Crossroads GPS. Progressive Media was formed in 2007 as an independent opposition research arm for the presidential campaign. The organization, structured then as a 527 group, produced notable hits, including footage of John McCain saying he would be comfortable if U.S. forces were in Iraq for 100 years as well as the first mention of the Arizona Republican's numerous homes.

But the money that Progressive Media needed for operations was all but cut off after the Obama campaign sent out word to donors that it wanted the funds channeled through its shop. The decision proved remarkably helpful to the campaign, which was provided with a historic funding stream to overwhelm the McCain campaign's message. But it was a blow for Progressive Media, which was forced to evolve into several different incarnations. The first was Progressive Accountability, a 501c(4) group that produced issue-oriented material. The second was a separate group, Accountable America, an organization set up by operative Tom Matzzie (a founder of Progressive Media) with the purpose of digging up dirt on major Republican donors.

Both groups played important roles in the 2008 campaign. But after the election they've been revamped. Progressive Accountability is now fully incorporated under the umbrella of two more mainstream Democratic institutions -- Media Matters and the Center for American Progress. Accountable America has been focused on financial regulatory reform.

With the 2010 elections now ramping up, Accountable America is now "evaluating whether there is a viable 2010 program around issues in the elections," Matzzie says. But the prevailing fear among operatives is that there simply is no alternative force to what Rove and Gillespie have built.

"It was a successful model and idea that the Democratic side shut down but the Republicans were smart enough to pick it up," said one former Progressive Accountability official.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

House GOP Strategy and Tactics

House Republicans, after failing to win recent elections by attacking Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are vowing to concentrate more on policy and less on personalities this time around.

The tactical shift is significant because it represents a departure from recent years when the GOP sought to highlight the San Francisco Democrat as a leading reason voters should elect Republicans. The strategy didn’t work in the 2006 and 2008 elections and also fell flat in the special-election race to replace the late Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.).

Former Rep. and National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Tom Davis (Va.) said, “They try to demonize Speakers, but it takes a lot [for it to be effective.] They tried that in Pennsylvania, but they have to translate the national trends into local races and they can do a better job of that.”

CQ-Roll Call

Chief Deputy Minority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), who heads the GOP agenda project “America Speaking Out,” said it would be tough to re-create the enthusiasm of August since the passion created by the health care reform debate has cooled.

“It’s tough because the last August had the [health care reform bill] hanging before it so there was something out there, something to fight,” McCarthy said, adding that one 2009 town hall in his district attracted 3,000 people. “I think last year was critical because that’s what really spurred the town halls and the debate.”

“This time you not only have to go back and talk about the lack of [action] here, but how can we make it better? How can we change it?” he said.

McCarthy said this recess would mark a second phase of America Speaking Out.

He explained that Members will be encouraged to use town hall meetings to present to their constituents solutions House Republicans have gathered from instead of simply accumulating more ideas or complaints about the country’s problems

American Crossroads GPS, Critiques of Attack Ad

Politico reports on American Crossroads GPS, the 501(c)(4) companion to American Crossroads:
A new political operation conceived by Republican operatives Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie formed a spinoff group last month that - thanks in part to its ability to promise donors anonymity - has brought in more money in its first month than the parent organization has raised since it started in March.
The new group, called American Crossroads GPS, has been telling donors their contributions would be used to dig up dirt on Congressional Democrats’ “expense account abuses” and to frame the BP oil spill as “Obama’s Katrina.”
The GPS group pulled in $5.1 million in June, its first month in operation, while the original American Crossroads, which has spent $600,000 on tough ads blistering Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, has pulled in $4.7 million since its launch.
According to a “concept paper” that was distributed last month to wealthy Republicans donors, American Crossroads GPS intends to build a “micro-team(s) of researchers and polling professionals” and “list development professionals and direct contact (mail/phones) consultants” to develop and disseminate “hard-hitting issue advocacy” attack Democrats by “exposing ObamaCare” as well as “the great ‘stimulus’ rip-off” and “the new federal bureaucrat elite – paid for by struggling private sector families.”

Meanwhile, Mother Jones and The Las Vegas Sun criticizied the latest American Crossroads attack ad against Harry Reid.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tea Party Rifts

Politico reports on the inevitable rifts in a decentralized movement:

When a group called the National Tea Party Federation took it upon itself to read California radio host Mark Williams and the Tea Party Express out of the insurgent movement because of Williams’s mocking and racially tinged attack on the NAACP, the media seized on the episode as evidence of the tea party movement’s struggle to purge racism from its ranks.

But for tea party organizers, who for months have grappled with what they contend are false allegations of racism, the incident highlighted a problem they believe is a more serious threat to the tea party’s longevity and effectiveness: the petty political disputes among rival leaders and groups competing, sometimes clumsily, to be the voice of a decentralized movement.

Read more:

Check and Balance

From MSNBC "First Read," a key phrase:
Perhaps the strongest argument the GOP made on “Meet” was this: Republicans in control of Congress will be a check and balance on the Obama White House. “I think what people are looking for … are checks and balances,” Cornyn said. “They've had single party government, and it's scaring the living daylights out of them.” As it turns out, our NBC/WSJ poll from May showed a whopping 62% preferring different parties controlling the White House and Congress. And as National Journal’s Ron Brownstein noted in his Friday column, that preference has played out over the last 40 years. “Since 1968, neither party has simultaneously controlled the White House and Congress for more than four consecutive years.” The "check" argument is most powerful with indie voters, who personally may have a favorable opinion of the president but have been disappointed in his policies. The "check" allows Republicans to make the pitch to a voter who isn't ready to give up on Obama's presidency but wants to send him a message.
In the race to succeed Joe Sestak in PA, the GOP candidate picks up the theme:
“While Bryan Lentz will be rubber stamp for Nancy Pelosi’s agenda in Congress, Pat Meehan will serve as a check and balance on some of the liberal policies being pushed through Congress,” said Bryan Kendro, Meehan’s campaign manager.
“I’m proud to stand with the NFIB and their 10,000 small-business members in Florida,” said Rubio. “Small businesses need a voice in Washington who will be a check-and-balance against the policies that are taking our country in the wrong direction and putting up obstacles to job creation."

[Rehberg political director Evan] Wilson said that while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., “and the leftist establishment in Washington continue their reckless spending sprees, Montanans all across the state realize we need Denny now more than ever to serve as a check and balance to out-of-control government.”

Coats' spokesman Kevin Kellems said Hoosiers are contributing to Coats’ campaign to serve as a check and balance on the Democratic-controlled Congress and the White House.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Inside and Outside, Elite and Mass, Court and Country

At Politico, Andy Barr reports:

In their opinions on policy and politicians ranging from President Barack Obama to Sarah Palin, elites in Washington have a strikingly divergent outlook from the rest of the nation, according to a new POLITICO poll released Monday.

Obama is far more popular while Palin, the former Alaska governor, is considerably less so. To the vast majority of D.C. elites, the tea party movement is a fad. The rest of the nation is less certain, however, with many viewing it as a potentially viable third party in the future.

The survey also reveals to a surprising degree how those involved in the policymaking and the political process tend to have a much rosier view of the economy than does the rest of the nation — and, in some cases, dramatically different impressions of leading officeholders, political forces and priorities for governing.

Video below:

In the New York Times, Ross Douthat cites a study showing that college admissions officers may tend to discriminate against applicants who have engaged in such "red-state" groups as Future Farmers or ROTC.

This provides statistical confirmation for what alumni of highly selective universities already know. The most underrepresented groups on elite campuses often aren’t racial minorities; they’re working-class whites (and white Christians in particular) from conservative states and regions. Inevitably, the same underrepresentation persists in the elite professional ranks these campuses feed into: in law and philanthropy, finance and academia, the media and the arts.

This breeds paranoia, among elite and non-elites alike. Among the white working class, increasingly the most reliable Republican constituency, alienation from the American meritocracy fuels the kind of racially tinged conspiracy theories that Beck and others have exploited — that Barack Obama is a foreign-born Marxist hand-picked by a shadowy liberal cabal, that a Wall Street-Washington axis wants to flood the country with third world immigrants, and so forth.

Among the highly educated and liberal, meanwhile, the lack of contact with rural, working-class America generates all sorts of wild anxieties about what’s being plotted in the heartland. In the Bush years, liberals fretted about a looming evangelical theocracy. In the age of the Tea Parties, they see crypto-Klansmen and budding Timothy McVeighs everywhere they look.

At The American Spectator, Angelo Codevilla writes of the political conflict between the "ruling class" and "the country class."

Nothing has set the country class apart, defined it, made it conscious of itself, given it whatever coherence it has, so much as the ruling class's insistence that people other than themselves are intellectually and hence otherwise humanly inferior. Persons who were brought up to believe themselves as worthy as anyone, who manage their own lives to their own satisfaction, naturally resent politicians of both parties who say that the issues of modern life are too complex for any but themselves. Most are insulted by the ruling class's dismissal of opposition as mere "anger and frustration" -- an imputation of stupidity -- while others just scoff at the claim that the ruling class's bureaucratic language demonstrates superior intelligence. A few ask the fundamental question: Since when and by what right does intelligence trump human equality? Moreover, if the politicians are so smart, why have they made life worse?

And no politician better voices the "country class" point of view than Sarah Palin. From her 2008 acceptance speech:

Before I became governor of the great state of Alaska, I was mayor of my hometown. And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involved.

I guess -- I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.

I might add that, in small towns, we don't quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they're listening and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren't listening.

No, we tend to prefer candidates who don't talk about us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco.

CA: E-Meg y Mejor Educación

Sunday, July 18, 2010

American Crossroads, Reid, and Unemployment

American Crossroads has a new ad against Harry Reid:

They're blocking Democrats' jobless aid in Washington and blaming Sen. Reid for not spending more on joblessness in Reno. More generally, the basic Republican position on the stimulus has been, for the past year I recall, that the stimulus was bad. Here's Karl Rove himself mocking the president for defending it. "The stimulus didn't work, and we deserved more of it" is a sad, cynical, and utterly predictable argument.

Now, American Crossroads' anguish about Nevada's small share of the stimulus isn't all crocodile tears. Since the Recovery Act turned out to be more a state-rescue plan than a jobs and infrastructure creation plan, larger states benefited. Nevada has a lean state government, but stimulus money went disproportionately to states with larger public sectors and higher Medicaid bills. If the Recovery Act's funds were more in line with district unemployment, Las Vegas and Reno -- the first and third worst-hit metro areas between 2007 and 2009 -- should be drowning in stimulus. Instead they're drowning in plot vacancies and joblessness.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

CA: Who Would Want the Governorship?

CBS News reports:

Filling Gaps in the White House Website, Part 44

Chuck Todd of MSNBC spoke with the president:

CHUCK TODD: You talk about a choice election this fall. Are you prepared for the fact that now that means your policy is a referendum on you and your policy and that the voters may say, "You know what? We're putting the Republicans in charge." What'd that tell you?


CHUCK TODD: What message does that send?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, we've got a long ways before the election, number one.

CHUCK TODD: You disagree with--

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Num-- number two--

CHUCK TODD: --in play?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Number two, we got-- number two-- this is going to be a choice between the policies that got us into this mess and my policies that are getting us out of this mess. And I think if you look at the vast majority of Americans, even those who are dissatisfied with the pace of progress, they'll say that the policies that got us into this mess we can't go back to.

They understand that because they remember that even before the financial crisis wages were flatlined. Jobs were moving overseas. And so now when they look at Holland, Michigan, and they say instead of jobs moving overseas we're seeing jobs move from South Korea here to the United States, that's something-- that gives them a sense of a future, a vision in which America's strong. It's competing. We are producing. We're not just consuming. That's the kind of future I think Americans want.

CHUCK TODD: You're prepared for November to be (UNINTEL) referendum on your policies and this presidency?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Chuck, you're not listening to me. What I'm prepared is to be held accountable for the policies that I've put in place. But they-- Americans don't have selective memory. They're gonna remember the policies that got us into this mess as well. And they sure as heck don't wanna go back to those.

Although the White House did not post the interview transcript, it did post a photo of the president during the interview:

Friday, July 16, 2010

American Crossroads and Other Outside Groups

USA Today reports:
Congressional candidates, political parties and special-interest groups have spent more than $139 million on TV ads to influence November's federal elections, more than twice the spending at this point in 2006, new data show.

Political advertising for state races, where 37 governors' contests are underway, also is on the rise. State-level candidates, parties and outside interests have pumped $225 million into TV commercials, up from $193 million four years earlier, according to Evan Tracey of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks political ads. A party breakdown was not available.

The spending is on pace to break records, Tracey said, as advocacy groups race to influence the midterm elections. "Incumbent insecurity" also is pushing lawmakers on the airwaves early "because they know they can't wait to let themselves be defined" by opponents, he said.


•A GOP group, American Crossroads, has $30 million in financial commitments, said Chairman Mike Duncan, a former Republican National Committee chairman

Thursday, July 15, 2010

CA: E-Meg & State GOP

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

California Republicans are buzzing about the possibility that billionaire gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman - who has spent nearly $100 million of her own money on her campaign - could be preparing another unprecedented personal investment in her political future: a $30 million-plus infusion into the state party.

The Chronicle has obtained a draft of a detailed 44-page state GOP "2010 Victory Plan" that outlines the party's $85.5 million financial blueprint for a campaign effort that includes $30 million directed to the gubernatorial race.

The former eBay CEO is "putting a significant amount of money in ... it could be $30 to $40 million," said a GOP insider familiar with the plan. The source said Whitman is also expected to tap her fundraising sources and contacts for the party's benefit.


With four months to go before the November election and the latest polls showing the gubernatorial race in a dead heat between Whitman and Democratic state Attorney General Jerry Brown, the buzz about Whitman's seemingly bottomless checkbook underscores how the GOP candidate - who has already broken all spending records - continues to reshape California politics dramatically.

The victory plan specifically states that the mission of the party in 2010 is "to put a Republican governor in Sacramento by strategically communicating, promoting and supporting the (state party) message to its members, elected officials and candidates."

Gubernatorial candidates frequently donate and fundraise heavily for state party causes - as has Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. But with a net worth exceeding $1 billion, Whitman is by far the wealthiest candidate ever to seek state office.

Read more:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Arizona Immigration Law: Latest Poll Data

Opposition to the Arizona immigration law continues to backfire in the polls.

Public support for Arizona's controversial new immigration law has increased slightly, a new CBS News poll shows, with 57 percent of Americans characterizing the law as "about right" in the way it addresses the issue of illegal immigration.

Support for the measure increased five points since May. Since then, the Justice Department has filed suit against the law, claiming that it usurps federal authority to enforce immigration laws.


Twenty-three percent of Americans think the law goes too far, according to the poll, conducted July 9 - 12. That's down five points from the 28 percent who said in May that the measure goes too far. Another 17 percent said it doesn't go far enough. [emphasis added]

Americans' support for Arizona’s tough new immigration law is unwavering, with the public unmoved by a legal challenge to the law filed last week by the US Department of Justice, finds a new poll released Monday by TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence (TIPP).

“What is interesting here is that Americans are on the side of Arizona and seem to not share the US government’s views against the law, despite wide media coverage of the clash between [President] Obama and [Arizona Gov. Jan] Brewer on this issue,” says Raghavan Mayur, president of TIPP.

The most compelling figure from the poll is that 51 percent of Americans support Arizona's law as it stands, compared with 35 percent who support the US case against Arizona.

The level of support is highest in the South and the West, at 55 and 56 percent, respectively. By contrast, respondents in the Northeast were equally divided in their support for Arizona versus the US, 41 percent to 41 percent.

More Americans disapprove than approve of the U.S. Justice Department’s decision to challenge the state of Arizona’s recently passed immigration law in federal court.

Just under half (45%) say they disapprove of the federal government’s decision to file a lawsuit seeking to overturn the law; 36% say they approve of the move, according to the latest Pew Research/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll, sponsored by SHRM. About two-in-ten (19%) say they do not know.
See earlier poll data here.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

CA: The Governor's Race -- Attacks, Attacks, Attacks

Meg Whitman attacked the attacks on her and attacked Jerry Brown for his links to special interests:

Jerry Brown went on CNN to attack Whitman's attacks againstthe attacks:

American Crossroads and Campaign Finance

The Center for Public Integrity reports:

To jumpstart fundraising, the pro-Republican American Crossroads 527 group is reaching out to powerful politicos such as ex-Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas and aggressively using a new money-collecting entity that can give donors more privacy.

Lackluster fundraising in April and May pulled in only a total of roughly $1.25 million, prompting American Crossroads to recently set up a 501(c)(4) nonprofit arm that is also allowed to get involved in political campaigns, but is less transparent in reporting requirements. Deploying both entities, American Crossroads raised about $8.5 million in June, says Steven Law, the group’s president. Politico first reported the $8.5 million total and some details about the new 501(c)(4)

But sources tell the Center for Public Integrity that only about half of that total went to the 527 group and is slated to be reported publicly on July 20. The other half went to the new 501(c)(4) group — American Crossroads GPS — which does not have to disclose its donors until early 2011.

“There are some kinds of donors who prefer the anonymity of a 501(c)(4),” Law said in an interview. The new 501(c)(4) will also allow American Crossroads to run ads focusing on legislative issues such as taxes, the deficit and health care in the coming months, he said

At, Brian Montopoli writes:

As the RGA and outside groups like American Crossroads (a Karl Rove-backed organization that raised more than $8 million in June, $2 million more than the RNC) rake in the donations amid a Republican fundraising boom driven by anti-Obama sentiment, the RNC concedes that its fundraising has fallen off. Donors, an unnamed GOP strategist told the Washington Post, "want to invest their money to win seats. They don't trust this guy [Steele] to invest their money wisely. . . . They just don't think the RNC is a smart place to invest their money right now."

The RNC counters criticism by noting that it has outraised the Democratic National Committee in more than half of months this election cycle and that it has more cash-on-hand that at this point in the 1994 election cycle, when the GOP took over Congress. But the group has revised its budget downward and has reduced funds for voter mobilization, prompting outside groups to step in to try to fill the void.

The upshot of all this may be that the Republican Party is becoming more decentralized than ever before, with a raft of alternative power centers -- American Crossroads, the RGA, The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Action Network, and even Sarah Palin among them. And that could have serious long-term consequences for the party, since it means less coordination over the deployment of resources.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Keeping and Losing the House

As is often the case, the White House and its party leaders on Capitol Hill are not on the same page.

In January, DCCC chair Chris Van Hollen told Politico: "We’ve been saying this would be a tough election year, but it’s a hallucination for Republican leaders to think they’ll take back the House — this is not 1994 déjà vu."

In March, Speaker Pelosi had this exchange with CNN's Candy Crowley:
CROWLEY: Do you think that you will lose seats?

PELOSI: Well, the election is not today. I expect...

CROWLEY: Just looking at the landscape.

PELOSI: Let me just say it this way, the Democrats will retain the majority in the House of Representatives. We have a huge -- we have, what, 54-, 55-vote majority. We had a swing in the last two elections of 110 seats. We will -- I am not yielding one grain of sand. We are fighting for every seat.
Yesterday, however, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said on Meet the Press:
"I think there's no doubt that there are a lot of seats that will be up, a lot of contested seats. I think people are going to have a choice to make in the fall. But I think there's no doubt there are enough seats in play that could cause Republicans to gain control. "

Sunday, July 11, 2010

CA: The Age Issue and the Voting Issue

David Siders reports in The Sacramento Bee:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman's scant voting record is viewed poorly by more than half of likely voters, but many aren't thrilled with Democratic rival Jerry Brown's age, either.

In a wide-ranging measure of the candidate characteristics that matter most to voters, a report released today by the nonpartisan Field Poll depicts an electorate that favors both political and business experience as well as progressive or moderate views.

Of likely voters surveyed, 54 percent said they are less inclined to vote for a candidate for high office who hasn't voted in many statewide elections, while 4 percent said they are more likely to. The difference – what Field calls the net negative effect – is 50 points.

Meanwhile, 37 percent of likely voters are less likely to vote for a candidate who is older than 70, according to the poll. Brown is 72.

Read more:

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Strategy Overview

Reid Wilson has an excellent summary of party strategy at Hotline:
Democrats are playing on a field that favors their rivals and with messages that advantage the GOP. Their only choice is to change the dialogue. They need to make the contest a choice between two competing visions rather than a referendum on their own leadership. And that imperative has them playing the political equivalent of small ball.

Democrats have "got to remind people what Republicans were -- the party they rejected last time," said former Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., who led his party's campaign efforts in 2004. "That's good politics if you can make it stick. The problem is, it's only good for a day or two at a time."

Republicans, meanwhile, are no strangers to nitpicking their way through an unfavorable landscape...

None of those attacks will move a vote on their own, just as Democrats shouldn't count on building their majority on the back of Joe Barton. But the Democratic strategy has more to do with building a narrative about who Republicans are. And, in truth, Republicans remain even less popular than Democrats.

"It's going to take a bunch of bloopers. They're going to have to put a lot of hits together to get a rally going," the GOP's Davis said, when asked how Democrats can succeed with their strategy. "The only good news for Democrats is that they're running against Republicans."

CA: Labor Group Counterattacks Against Whitman

Capitol Alert reports that a labor-backed group is attacking Whitman's attack ad:

American Crossroads and the Ground War

NPR reports that RNC is cutting back on voter mobilization and that groups such as American Crossroads are filling in:

Traditionally, outside groups like the American Action Network have mostly spent money on TV ads.

But now there's anxiety that Democrats might win the ground war. So the groups are putting in more effort there.

"We do expect to be able to pinpoint individual voters based on issues and how they feel about them, and communicate directly with them through a variety of means," says American Crossroads President Steven Law.

But microtargeting only takes you so far. Law says it's much harder for an independent group to organize the final stage of voter mobilization — the face-to-face contacts aimed at getting people to the polls. That's something the RNC would normally finance.

"I don't know whether at American Crossroads we would have a significant boots-on-the-ground component in this election cycle — I don't know that that's going to be achievable for us," Collins says.

Friday, July 9, 2010

CA: Whitman, Brown, and Latinos

Seema Mehta reports in the Los Angeles Times:
On the heels of a poll that showed Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman improving her standing among Latinos, Democratic rival Jerry Brown on Thursday launched an appeal to this vital bloc of voters, who are crucial to his election but have yet to show strong allegiance to him.

Brown, flanked by more than a dozen Latino leaders at Cal State L.A., said Latinos would not be duped by Whitman's recent overtures and would remember the Republican's harsh words about illegal immigration during the GOP primary.

"Listen, you can put up your billboards in Spanish and you can buy stuff on Spanish television, but the people aren't fooled. The people know the truth," he said. "Between now and November, we're going to deliver that message up and down the state."

Brown has come under withering criticism by fellow Democrats for his campaign's lack of visible energy and lack of outreach to Latinos. This week, the campaign hired its first fluent Spanish speaker, and a spokesman said its website would be translated into Spanish soon.
HELLOOOOO??? It's the middle of July, and the Democratic nominee for governor of California does not yet have a Spanish-language web presence? (The Brown site just has a link to Google Translate.)

Democrats React to Outside GOP Groups

The Washington Post reports:

Democratic Party officials are sending a wake-up call to the party's operatives, allies and grassroots supporters, saying they could be vastly outspent by Republican-leaning outside interest groups in November's midterm elections.

A four-page memorandum circulating widely among Democrats estimates that conservative interest groups, including the newly-minted American Crossroads, could collectively spend upwards of $300 million on the fall campaigns -- a far larger sum than in previous election cycles. Democrats have been slow to recognize the impending threat of such third-party groups, but have now concluded that conservative groups are likely to dramatically outspend liberal groups this cycle, said one Democratic official.

Sam Stein reports at The Huffington Post:

Over the past few weeks, top Democratic Party strategists have been passed a chart by a concerned, well-respected operative underscoring the daunting task they face in the 2010 elections.

On the left hand side of the chart is a list of ten Republican aligned institutions, ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the Family Research Council. Next to it is a column listing the amount of money each group has pledged to spend by Election Day. A third column on the right details what those groups actually spent in 2008 on federal elections.

The number at the bottom delivers the key message. If their pledges are fulfilled, these ten groups will unleash more than $200 million in election-focused spending -- roughly $37 million more than every single independent group spent on the 2008 presidential campaign combined. This time around, almost every single penny will be going to Republican candidates or causes.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Outside GOP Groups in 2010

At AOL News, Andrea Stone provides some background on American Crossroads and other outside GOP groups:
The new conservative groups aren't the first to work outside the GOP establishment -- even if many of their key personnel are inside-the-Beltway veterans. Freedom's Watch, which billed itself as a conservative version of MoveOn, spent $30 million during the 2008 cycle but shut down soon after the election when it failed to get close to the $250 million it had promised to spend to defeat Democrats that year.

"Freedom's Watch tried to fill that void, but they didn't wind up with the money they thought they would and closed their door," said [American Crossroads political director Carl] Forti, insisting that things are different now. "People recognize the tremendous opportunity for Republicans this year and that this role needs to be filled. Republicans are sick and tired of being outspent by Democrats."

The plethora of new groups mirrors an earlier Democratic organizational surge. "When you're winning, there's less imperative to start groups like this. When you're losing, there is," [pollster Whit] Ayres said. "We have lagged but we're fast catching up."

[Former RNC chair Ed] Gillespie agreed that Democrats had a head start in forming outside political action groups. "Republicans have finally come to terms that McCain-Feingold is the law of the land," he told AOL News. "It's probably time after three [election] cycles to stop complaining about it and start adapting to it. ... We just can't allow the left to have that playing field to themselves."