With the battle for the Senate tilting toward Republicans and President Obama’s approval ratings hovering near his all-time low, Democrats are more reliant than they have ever been on the very kind of big-money groups they have spent years trying to outlaw.
They are countering the Republican Party’s expansive and formidable outside spending network this fall with a smaller but more tightly knit alliance of groups that share donors, closely coordinate their advertising and hit harder than their conservative counterparts.
To hold the Senate, the Democratic outside spending network is working hand in hand with — and is funded by — the party’s traditional ideological allies, including abortion rights organizations, environmentalists and labor unions. They have overlapping board memberships, use the same voter data and even share advertising content. Most of their on-air money is being spent through a small cluster of “super PACs,” which can explicitly advocate the election or defeat of specific candidates.
While Republicans have spent more over all on advertising during the midterm campaign, their cash has been spread among a larger array of groups. Many of them are newer organizations established or expanded by the Koch network this cycle. Others sprang up to cater to donors angry at the poor performance of Crossroads and other consultant-run groups in 2012.
“I think the problem for the Republicans is that all their big-money supporters are doing their own thing, and not really giving as much money to the party committees,” Mr. Feehery said. “There’s really very little coordination.”Also at The Times, Thomas Edsall writes:
Gara LaMarche, the president of Democracy Alliance, defended his members, who have been accused of hypocrisy. The charge, coming from both the left and right, LaMarche wrote, centers “on the assertion that progressive wealthy donors are spending a lot of money in elections when they also claim to be for getting money out of elections.”
LaMarche countered in an email thatthere is a big difference between this and the Kochs and their ilk. Our donors are using the current political system to bring about laws and policies that would change that system in a way that gives their wealth less weight. Not to mention advocating policies that would often tax or regulate them more.In contrast, political spending by the Kochs and their allies is in effect a business expense — it coincides with and advances their bottom line financial interests. There’s a moral distinction here.
David Brock, the chairman of Media Matters, which is one of the groups endorsed by the Alliance, made a similar argument at a Democracy Alliance meeting in Santa Fe in June:
You’re not in this room today trying to figure out how to rig the game so you can be free to make money poisoning little kids. Subscribing to a false moral equivalence is giving the Kochs exactly what they want: keeping us quiet about what they’re doing to destroy the very fabric of our nation.Brock and LaMarche’s argument is politically risky. Claiming the moral high ground to assert that you can do something that your morally crippled adversaries cannot is one of the more effective strategies to alienate people.