Sometimes media coverage of the midterm elections comes across as a sort of undifferentiated Visigothic raid on Democrats by Republicans everywhere. But it’s a little more subtle than that, as indicated by Politico‘s Alex Isenstadt in a survey of the two parties’ strategies for controlling the House in November.
Interestingly, the DCCC has a two-to-one financial advantage over the NRCC, at $34 million to $17 million. That’s reflected in the targeted TV ad time the two committees are reserving for the stretch run, with the DCCC planning $49 million in total ad expenditures, and the NRCC $22 million.
The DCCC’s money, unsurprisingly, will be overwhelmingly focused on defending vulnerable incumbents, with 54 of its 60 targeted races in seats held by Democrats. The NRCC is currently reserving ad time in a more limited 40 districts, all now held by Democrats, with a mix of targets:
The bulk of the Democrats in the crosshairs are vulnerable first-term legislators sitting in Republican-oriented seats. Many are clustered in the South, including Rep. Bobby Bright (D-Ala.), Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-Fla.), Rep. Travis Childers (D-Miss.), Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.) and Rep. Glenn Nye (D-Va.).
Republicans are also looking toward a handful of Republican-leaning seats that have been left vacant by Democratic retirements. Among them: Arkansas’s 1st District, Indiana’s 8th District, Kansas’s 3rd District, and Tennessee’s 8th District.
A number of seasoned Capitol Hill veterans are being singled out for rough treatment. Rep. Ben Chandler (D-Ky.), Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas), Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.), Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.), Edwards, and Spratt – all of whom face their most difficult reelection campaigns in years – are on the GOP fall hit list.
In a nod to the perilous election environment, Republicans are also probing for fresh pickup opportunities in Republican-friendly districts that until recently looked to be locked down by savvy Democrats. Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.), Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), and Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind.)- all of whom hold wide cash on hand advantages over their opponents and won by comfortable margins in 2008-will have ads run against them.
At present Republicans aren’t planning to spend anything defending their own vulnerable incumbents in Hawaii and Louisiana.
But in general, their strategy indicates that some of the wilder estimates of Republican House gains this year really do depend on a “wave” that operates independently of individual campaigs in individual districts. Republican money is focused on a much narrower range of possibilities. In all the discussions about high GOP expectations this year, we should take a moment to hear money talk.