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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Night of Crossroads

Two years ago, some on the left and the right criticized Karl Rove for the defeat of Crossroads-backed candidates.  The midterm is different as Michael Beckel, Carrie Levine, and Dave Levinthal write at Slate:
Groups connected to Rove and the Koch brothers were among the biggest winners in Tuesday’s midterm elections. Of the 10 U.S. Senate races where either the Rove-linked nonprofit Crossroads GPS or its sister super PAC, American Crossroads, was active, their favored candidates prevailed in at least six—with the Alaska Senate race still too close to call at this writing and a runoff election coming next month in Louisiana. Similarly, of the nine U.S. Senate races where the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity was active, its favored candidates also prevailed in at least five contests. Only in New Hampshire and Michigan did the Crossroads groups and Americans for Prosperity see defeat.

In the Granite State, incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen kept Republican challenger Scott Brown, who previously represented Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate, at bay. And in Michigan, Rep. Gary Peters defeated former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land to win an open-seat race. As of press time, incumbent Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, was trailing GOP challenger Dan Sullivan, the state’s former attorney general and natural resources commissioner, by about four percentage points.

Ultimately, the current occupant of the White House decided the 2014 election, said Steven Law, president of American Crossroads. “This election was about President Obama,” Law said in a statement. Levi Russell, a spokesman for Americans for Prosperity, did not respond to requests for comment.
The Sunlight Foundation reports:
Two years ago, when we took the post-mortem of the presidential-year elections, powerhouse conservative spenders like Crossroads GPS, American Crossroads and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had almost nothing to show for the tens of millions of dollars they funneled into that campaign. In 2014, conservatives turned the ship around, drubbing their liberal rivals in a year in which independent groups on both sides dropped unprecedented amounts of money.
The three conservative organizations mentioned above all had success rates under 20 percent two years ago. This year? Each group batted .800 or above. With several races remaining to be decided, the National Republican Senatorial Committee also boasts a 94 percent success rate.
Nicholas Confessore reports at The New York Times:
American Crossroads and its affiliated nonprofit group spent $50 million on political advertising, and at least $20 million more on so-called issue ads, a spokesman said. The groups dominated outside spending in Alaska, where the Crossroads groups put about $7 million into television advertising, and Colorado, fielding close to $14 million, which helped crush Senator Mark Udall, the Democrat who was once favored to win.
All told, Republican outside groups spent about $205 million on television advertising in Senate races, according to a Democrat tracking media purchases, who agreed to share the information on condition of anonymity, while Democratic groups spent $132 million.

For many conservative strategists, this election was a dress rehearsal for the next one. Beginning next year, they face the prospect of a formidable presidential contender in Hillary Rodham Clinton and a Democratic Party that is itself quickly mastering the mechanics of unlimited fund-raising.
“The key to success in most endeavors, including politics, is learning and adaptation,” said Stuart Stevens, who served as a top strategist to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. After Tuesday, Mr. Stevens said, “Republicans have that experience — and it’s an advantage.”