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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dem Campaigns Way Short of Cash

The good news is that Democrats have expanded the number of congressional seats they can pick up on Nov. 7 beyond what most insiders thought possible six months ago — as many as 41 in the House, according to DCorps strategist Stan Greenberg, and 7 in the senate. The bad news is that they are far short of the cash needed to run competitive campaigns. According to Jim VandeHei’s WaPo article “Funding Constrains Democrats: Party Chiefs See Chance to Take 40-Plus Seats With TV Push,” Dems face some painful choices over the next two+ weeks:

Some Democratic officials and donors want their money concentrated to maximize the chances that the party captures the minimum number of seats necessary to gain majorities in the House and the Senate, rather than having resources spread too thin by spending on second-tier targets….It would be virtually impossible to expand the number of House seats with fully competitive races without taking some money away from efforts to win back the Senate.
…The DCCC is likely to go deep into debt, perhaps topping the $11 million deficit it racked up in 2004. The committee can borrow as much as a bank is willing to lend. The other option is to take money out of Republican districts that the party is confident it is almost certain to win.
This approach carries a big risk, however. If the party pulls ads in districts such as the Indiana base of Rep. Chris Chocola, who is trailing by double digits in private Democratic polling, it might allow an established GOP incumbent to creep back up in the race.

VandeHei points out that big donors, including George Soros, are not giving as much to congressional campaigns as in 2004, prefering to invest in long-term growth. DCorps strategists Stan Greenberg and James Carville and are now calling on Dem campaigns to borrow as much as they can to close the cash shortfall. As James Carville puts it:

I am saying this is a twice-in-a-lifetime environment… You try to maximize it.

For both parties, it’s all about saturating districts with TV ads over the next two plus weeks, and the GOP has a strong advantage at present. Smaller contributors will probably decide how large the Dems’ margin of victory will be in the House and whether or not Dems win the Senate. Everyone who wants to see a Democratic majority in Congress should make a contribution NOW.

2 comments on “Dem Campaigns Way Short of Cash

  1. chicago dyke on

    as atrios pointed out today, it doesn’t seem right that virtually no-chance “hopefuls” like bayh are sitting on millions and give a paltry 100K to dccc/dscc efforts, and i’m supposed to cough up another round to support the 40 seat effort.
    when the party leadership starts acting like they care about the party as a whole, and not their individual careers (and hey, there’s this crazy idea about listening to constituents, but forget that for now, must please big donors) a lot of us will be more interested in giving more, doing more, being more supportive.
    but i don’t have 5 million lying around, or 50. the senate dems do. clearly, taking advantage of historic polling trends and returning this country from the authoritative brink are not priorities to these people. for crying out loud, they could even structure the giving as loans…no one’s asking them to commit it all for nothing.

  2. JA on

    I’m taking out loans to help finance my career in politics. Why shouldn’t the DNC, DCCC or DSCC? Part of the problem (and I’m not sure this is a true problem) may be the DNC’s focus on state and local party building. Pay now for a stronger future –that’s almost as American an idea as taking out loans today for a successful future. See? We are the party that stands for American Values.
    Now, if only I could get the party to repay my loans…


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