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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

American Crossroads: Dems Try to Catch Up

Jonathan Martin writes at Politico:

[A]ccording to an internal Democratic spreadsheet obtained by POLITICO, there is a canyon-size gap between the two parties right now when it comes to spending by outside groups.

As of Monday, pro-Republican third-party organizations had paid for a total of $23.6 million worth of ads, while Democratic-aligned groups had spent just $4.8 million on TV.

... Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard of California inquired during the House Democratic Caucus meeting about the heavy spending by right-wing groups, particularly the new American Crossroads.


Service Employees International Union, the country’s largest union, is targeting from 15 to 20 House races, according to spokesman Teddy Davis. But it won’t air TV ads in every one of those districts, and much of its effort will be on the ground.

“When you’re looking at House races that can be decided by 1,000 to 2,000 votes, doing field and GOTV is our bread and butter and what the other side can’t match,” AFL-CIO spokesman Eddie Vale said.

A Democratic campaign official said labor’s ground game is appreciated — but might be moot if their candidates can’t first close the gap in the polls heading into Election Day.

“Field only gets you so far if you’re getting buried,” the aide said.

Perhaps most frustrating for Democrats is the absence of a pure, campaign-oriented third-party group along the lines of American Crossroads, the group founded in part by Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie and now run by veteran Republicans Steven Law and Mike Duncan. No organization on the left will do anything like what American Crossroads, with a fundraising goal of $52 million, is doing now for GOP Senate candidates. And what worries some House Democratic officials is that if Law and Duncan, seeing better prospects for carrying the House than the Senate, shift some of their money away from the statewide races into less expensive congressional campaigns.

Seeking to respond to the influx in spending from conservative-leaning groups this cycle, left-leaning third party organizations are trying new strategies in order to stretch their dollars to compete.

Across the board, Democrat-backed third party groups acknowledge that there is no way they can match the funds of organizations that are supporting the GOP, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 60 Plus, Americans for Prosperity and American Crossroads.

As a result, groups that have had large footprints in previous cycles like MoveOn and labor unions are largely abandoning the TV airwaves so far, choosing instead to focus on mobilizing their members in grassroots efforts. In some cases, they are even going so far as to campaign on undermining the conservative third party groups.