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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Money and Democratic Strategy

Some nuggets from “Does it matter that Democrats are raising more money than Republicans?,” a 538 panel with Nathaniel Rakich, Kaleigh Rogers and Geoffrey Skelley:

Nathaniel Rakich: “President Joe Biden’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee say they raised a combined $90 million in March, while former President Donald Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee say they combined for $66 million. Democrats have an even wider advantage in cash on hand: $192 million to $93 million. But my first question is simple: Does it really matter that Republicans are so far behind in the money race?….Trump will probably be able to basically print money going forward….CNN’s Matt Holt highlighted just how much more cash on hand Democrats have than Republicans in nearly all competitive Senate races….Republicans have adopted a deliberate strategy of recruiting rich guys to run for Senate this year, meaning they can self-fund their campaigns — like Hovde in Wisconsin, as Kaleigh mentioned. Other examples are Dave McCormick in Pennsylvania, Bernie Moreno in Ohio and Tim Sheehy in Montana. The multimillion-dollar question, though, is how much they’re willing to dip into their own pockets.”

Kaleigh Rogers: “It doesn’t not matter, though I know that’s an unsatisfying answer. In a race in which both candidates are household names and — despite Trump’s current deficit — will raise and spend gobs of money before the election is over, these differences aren’t going to make or break a campaign….Money never guarantees success (my go-to example of this is former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s billion-dollar losing bid for president in 2020), but it’s not irrelevant. Money buys ads, campaign workers, billboards, yard signs and T-shirts with your respective campaign meme on them. All of this helps get out the vote, get a candidate’s message out and (especially in this race) possibly challenge voters’ preconceived notions of the candidates and what they bring to the table. That’s valuable, but having more digits in your receipts column for Q1 doesn’t equate to a decisive advantage….Democrats outraised Republicans in every single competitive race except Wisconsin, and that was only because GOP candidate Eric Hovde topped up his campaign with $8 million of his own funds in his bid to unseat Sen. Tammy Baldwin.”

geoffrey.skelley: “In the long run, a consistent spending advantage for one candidate could matter. For instance, if Biden were to steadily outspend Trump on ads in swing states down the stretch, that could make a slight difference in his support, as we’ve seen in past campaigns….Trump got an incredible $5.9 billion in earned media (that is, free publicity) in the 2016 campaign, dwarfing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s $2.8 billion and arguably minimizing her almost 2-to-1 edge in more traditional campaign spending….it’s mainly just a question of whether either one can sustain a significant financial lead throughout much of the campaign. My guess is no….No one should be equating Biden’s current fundraising lead with the idea that Biden has a superior campaign….the toughest seats for Democrats to hold this cycle (after Ohio and Montana) should be the open seats in Arizona and Michigan. And the likely Democratic nominees in both states notably outraised their GOP opposition.”

Read the whole article to get the flow of the panelists responses to each other. Also, for an insightful explanation of the unlimited spending power of Super Pacs and the role of the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision in elections, check out this video, featuring Chisun Lee, deputy executive director of The Brennan Center and read “Super PACs keep testing the limits of campaign finance law” by Jessica Piper at Politico.

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