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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

DCCC Strategy for 2014


At The Washington Post, Paul Kane writes:
The best way to defeat the conservative, ideologically driven GOP, Democrats say, is to field non-ideological “problem solvers” who can profit from the fed-up-with-partisanship mood of some suburban areas. These districts will offer some of the few competitive House campaigns in the country.
...

[DCCC chair Steve] Israel’s approach is a variation on the model used by then-Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), the campaign committee chairman in 2006 when Democrats took over the House in George W. Bush’s “six-year itch” midterm. Emanuel sought out centrists and conservatives to run in rural districts, particularly in the South.

But after the GOP 2010 wave and the redrawing of district lines, most of those seats have been locked away for Republicans. What remains are a clutch of suburban seats — not unlike Israel’s own on Long Island — full of nonpartisan professionals who are more concerned about day-to-day issues than ideological battles.
...
Israel has been traveling the country to win over skeptics, delivering detailed, 90-minute presentations laying out what he sees as a path to victory. A Washington Post reporter was granted access to a presentation delivered recently to donors in Manhattan.

Israel’s pitch is built around the idea that Republicans won as many as 30 seats by single-digit margins, giving Democrats immediate opportunities. Another 22 were unique targets with districts more favorable to Democrats in non-presidential years or where the party ran poor campaigns in 2012. Texas and Florida still have to resolve legal battles over their congressional maps, and Democrats believe the final configurations will produce several more seats for them.

Without a presidential contest to compete with, Democrats also believe liberal mega-donors will open their wallets more generously to House Majority PAC, a super PAC supporting House Democrats. Its director, Ali Lapp, a former DCCC adviser, can attend events with Israel at this early stage of the campaign season without violating laws prohibiting the two committees from coordinating their activities.
The problem is that the 2006 model might not apply.  First, the Democrats are in the president's party, not the out-party, so the midterm effect works against them, not for them.  Second, in 2006, Nancy Pelosi had not been speaker and Barack Obama had not been president. In light of their records since then, it will be very hard for people to see Democrats as non-ideological problem solvers this time.