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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

GOP Cavalry: F Troop


In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race

Kenneth P. Vogel and Rachel Shorey at NYT:
Democratic candidates are outpacing the fund-raising of their Republican rivals in key congressional races, but huge checks from conservatives assured that their side will remain financially competitive in the weeks before next month’s midterms.
In an election season that appears likely to shatter midterm fund-raising records, Democrats outraised their Republican opponents in 32 of the closest 45 House races by a total margin of $154 million to $108 million since November 2016, according to an analysis of reports filed Monday with the Federal Election Commission. Even in the 13 targeted races in which Republicans outraised their Democratic rivals, the margin was a less gaping $41 million to $31 million.
The breakneck Democratic campaign fund-raising, much of which was fueled by donors giving small sums online, has boosted the confidence of party leaders. They believe the financial advantage will give them the resources they need to harness an enthusiasm gap and capitalize on enmity for President Trump headed into Election Day.
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Republican super PACs like the Congressional Leadership Fund are using the cash to try to offset the Democratic advantages in campaign fund-raising by spending money on voter mobilization and other tasks traditionally handled by campaigns, instead of the television ads on which such groups traditionally spent the majority of their cash.
“That’s an experiment in process, and the jury is still out on whether that can be successful,” said Michael Toner, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission who represents Republican campaigns, including the 2016 presidential bid of the former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. “For outside money to be of equal value to campaign money, they’ve got to be effective at turning people out, because people aren’t watching TV anymore.
Dan Merica and David Wright at CNN:
Federal law mandates that political campaigns receive discounted rates for television ads, making money spent by a candidate far more efficient than that given to a super PAC, which has to pay the full rate to run ads. That means that in some districts, groups like the Congressional Leadership Fund need to spend four times as many ads as a Democratic candidate in order to air the same number of ads.
One reason for the more spread out fundraising numbers for Democrats stems from the continued rise of ActBlue, a non-profit organization that helps Democrats raise money from small dollar donors across the country. The platform, which give millions of donors the option to store their information on the platform, allows each of those users to donate money to 14,000 campaigns and nonprofits with Amazon-like efficiency, dispersing money in just one-click.
This has not only led candidates to prioritize small dollar donors by focusing on creating viral moments that boost national recognition and fundraising, but it gives candidates without deep fundraising networks -- mostly those running for the first time -- the ability to raise enough money to keep up with usually well-funded incumbents.
Steve Peoples at AP:
GOP operatives connected to several vulnerable candidates complain that the committee responsible for electing House Republicans has failed to deliver on its promise to invest $62 million in political advertising across 11 states this fall, a promise detailed in a September memo that declared, “The cavalry is coming.”
The operatives spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid retribution; vulnerable Republican candidates still hope to receive additional financial support over the three weeks before Election Day.
But if the cavalry is coming, it’s not coming for everyone.
Already, the Republican operatives and spending patterns by both sides indicate GOP defeat in as many as a dozen House races — halfway to the number Democrats need to seize the House majority this fall. Dozens more seats are in play.
“We’re starting to hone in on what are the races we can actually win. Sometime that requires a hard conversation,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan’s fundraising chief, Spencer Zwick.
Even after a burst of enthusiasm that helped Republican Senate candidates in several states following the recent Supreme Court debate, some Republicans closely following the more complicated House battlefield fear the party may have already lost Congress’ lower chamber. With 22 days to go, they’re working furiously in an expanding political battlefield to limit their losses.
Fundraising challenges make it harder.
As of Friday, the National Republican Congressional Committee has spent or reserved $44.8 million of television advertising in competitive House races since the end of July, according to spending records obtained by The Associated Press. That’s significantly less than the $62 million promised in last month’s memo.