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Monday, April 9, 2012

"Orphan State Parties"

Because of the winner-take-all electoral college system everywhere except Maine and Nebraska, the national campaigns will tend to skip states that are sure to vote for one candidate or the other.  Problems may ensue downticket, as Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns write at Politico:
National Republicans have begun to intervene in a handful of key Senate and House battlegrounds where state parties are in disarray, seeking to head off the possibility that local mismanagement could cost the party control of Congress.
The GOP presidential nominee will be impacted by the state party woes, but what especially worries Republican operatives are those states where there is no competition on top of the ticket but which feature a number of pivotal Senate and House contests.

These “orphan states,” most notably behemoths with traditionally weak parties like California, Illinois and New York, are increasingly the focus of top GOP officials in the nation’s capital this spring.
Because of coordination rules, party officials would prefer that the parties do GOTV instead of the super PACs.
“It makes it difficult for the ground game,” lamented a senior Republican about what he called “the welfare states.” “If the country is divided again like it was in ’04 the ground game makes a difference.”
California is in tough shape.
We’re just going to have to do a work-around,” said Jeff Miller, a top Sacramento Republican who served as finance chair of the California GOP in 2010. “Latino voter outreach, voter registration and candidate recruitment are all going to have to be done through vehicles outside the state party.”
The cash disparity is stark in California, where redistricting could bring more than 10 competitive House races this year. State Democrats began the year with $9.3 million — that’s not just in federal funds — while California Republicans had less than $439,000. That’s in part because of the money the state GOP spent on an unsuccessful attempt at blocking the newly-redrawn state Senate map.
“A lot of donors here were upset that that’s what their money was getting spent on,” said Rob Stutzman, a California-based GOP strategist.
A third California Republican operative grumbled about ideologically-driven activists being more interested in party purges than winning elections. This Republican noted that the first big party gathering after their dismal 2010 showing was marked not by soul-searching about what went wrong but was dominated by a resolution about whether GOP legislators who supported allowing voters to decide how to fill the budget deficit should be deemed as “traitorous” and recalled from office.
“The party has been co-opted by some folks who aren’t very good at raising money or winning elections,” said the California Republican. “As a political party that really renders you irrelevant, which is what has happened here.”