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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Iron Law of Emulation and the 2018 Money Picture

In Defying the Odds, we discuss congressional elections as well as the presidential race.  Campaign finance is a big part of the story.

The Iron Law of Emulation is at work.  In 2010, Karl Rove pioneered the use of super PACs in congressional elections.  Just as important, he gathered representatives of outside groups at his home to coordinate their spending plans.  (Though outside groups cannot directly coordinate with parties or candidates, they are perfectly free to coordinate among themselves.)  Democrats have learned from the other side.

Simone Pathé at Roll Call:
In the dog days of summer, before many Americans were tuning into the midterm elections, the leading Democratic super PAC dedicated to winning the House convened a giant meeting with dozens of outside groups.
That laid the foundation for an unprecedented coordination effort among Democratic independent expenditure groups that spent over $200 million in more than 70 House races, overwhelming Republicans and helping deliver a Democratic majority.
At the August meeting, House Majority PAC staffers passed out binders with race information, public TV reservations and examples of direct mail already circulating in specific districts. And most importantly, they pointed out the gaps — the places they needed other independent expenditure groups to jump in.
“It’s almost like an auction,” said Charlie Kelly, executive director of HMP, with different groups laying claim to spending responsibilities for different weeks on radio, TV, digital and mail. Kelly likened HMP’s role to playing “air traffic control.”
It’s the reason why HMP was created: to coordinate the vast army of Democratic outside groups to ensure there’s no duplicative spending in any one place. Veteran Democratic operative Ali Lapp founded the super PAC in 2011 just after Democrats lost control of the House.
The Center for Public Integrity did a quick take on where money mattered -- and where the better-funded candidate still lost.

Alex Isenstadt at Politico:
Mitch McConnell stood before a roomful of Republican donors on Wednesday night to thank them for their help in the midterms. But the Senate leader also issued a dire warning: Democrats had just thumped them in the all-important online donor game, and the GOP badly needs to catch up.
The heart of the problem, McConnell said at the event at party headquarters on Capitol Hill, is ActBlue. The Democratic fundraising tool funneled over $700 million in small donations to House and Senate candidates over the course of the 2018 campaign. The GOP leader said Republicans were getting swamped in the hunt for online givers and that he has charged his political team with coming up with a solution to enable them to compete in 2020.
...
Republicans have long acknowledged the shortcoming and spoken out about the need to fix it, to no avail. But this year's gaping money disparity between the two parties has snapped the GOP to attention. 
...
 The thirst for an ActBlue-like platform has become a central point of discussion as Republicans plot out a road map to win back the House majority and select their new leadership. During a House Republican conference call on Thursday, Arkansas Rep. French Hill complained that the party didn’t raise enough small donations and should have its own version of ActBlue. Hill, who fended off a stiff challenge despite being outraised in the third quarter, said he would support only a candidate to lead the House GOP campaign arm who is committed to creating such a platform.