Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 21, 2010

IN THE MONEY.... Given the way the political winds have been blowing, the assumption was that the Republican campaign committees would be collecting more contributions at this point than their Democratic counterparts.

Fortunately for Dems, that's not happening. Chris Cillizza noted this morning, "Despite facing a difficult electoral environment this fall, the three national Democratic campaign committees outraised their Republican counterparts in August, numbers that should provide something of a boost to the party's hopes of retaining control of the House and Senate this fall."

Under the circumstances, the fundraising totals are surprisingly good for the majority party. The DNC outraised the RNC by a $3 million margin. The DCCC reversed recent trends and brought in $8.3 million in August, as compared to the NRCC's $6.6 million. Among the Senate committees, the NRSC has a cash-on-hand edge that matters a great deal, but in August it was outraised, $7.4 million to $6 million. Cillizza concluded, that Democrats "are not only guaranteed to have a spending advantage in many of the most competitive races in the county but also could benefit from a bit of unexpected momentum just six weeks before the November midterms."

When it comes to campaign resources, for Dems, that's the good news. What's the bad news? There's a legion of well-funded, right-wing organizations taking in money hand over fist, and all of it will go to fund attack ads targeting Democrats.

Take Karl Rove's operation, for example.

Two affiliated groups led by a blue-chip cast of Washington Republican strategists have raised a combined $32 million so far this year, using new freedom from fundraising restrictions to create a parallel and unofficial Republican campaign to defeat Democrats in November.

American Crossroads and its political sibling, Crossroads GPS, raised about $14.5 million in the 30-day period that ended Sunday, a signal that their aggressive advertising and voter outreach in key Senate battleground states have struck a chord with Republican donors.

Justin Elliott added that new FEC filings show that American Crossroads "continues to be funded virtually entirely by billionaires."

All told, there's a flood of money being spent in the midterm election from "independent" groups, and 85% of the money is going to support Republican candidates.

If the cycle were simply a matter of Democratic efforts vs. Republican efforts, Dems have the resources necessary to mount a credible defense of their majority. But with conservative corporations and right-wing fat cats getting involved at levels unseen in the modern era, the Democratic fundraising edge over the GOP committees can only go so far.

Steve Benen 10:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (14)

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Why would Republicans donate money to a group led by Michael Steele when they can give basically unlimited money anonymously to the Karl Rove groups and the like?

Posted by: Molly Weasley on September 21, 2010 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Where are our billionaires? don't we have a billionaire or two who gives a shit about the election?

Posted by: fourlegsgood on September 21, 2010 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

America for SALE? I'm shocked, shocked, I tell you.

It's not the money spent on misleading ads by patriotic sounding front groups, it's the gullible public that believes, "if it's on TeeVee, it must be true." (The same folks that think professional wrestling is 'real'.)

Posted by: DAY on September 21, 2010 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Citizens United means the role for either major party as little more than a fund raising tool is over. The Republicans realized it early. The Democrats still haven't come to grips with the new reality.

In the future a political party that doesn't work to please it's base is doomed.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 21, 2010 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Did I mention the future is now. When Obama and Rahm fired Dean and hired the faceless wonder they demonstrated a profound lack of understanding of what they had accomplished. The new Democratic party is going to be built from the bottom up, not from the billionaire down. Billionaires are going to be spending their money as they see fit. Rove caught the wave.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 21, 2010 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

When money is represented and the constituents are not the empires collapse is inevitable

Posted by: Kill Bill on September 21, 2010 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Conservative corporations? CONSERVATIVE corporations??

Posted by: Schtick on September 21, 2010 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

On the other hand, the Repubs still seem to manage an ENORMOUS amount of overhead to pay off the fundraising hacks, have nice offices, etc. Kinda like Hannity's "charities" that have precious little left for the ostensible purpose after paying for the suites, the jets, the meals, etc. Repub fundraising seems to be a lot of fundraising for the fundraisers. With some luck, they really don't have much left for the actual media buys, GOTV efforts, etc.

Posted by: artsmith on September 21, 2010 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK
a signal that their aggressive advertising and voter outreach in key Senate battleground states have struck a chord with Republican donors.
Justin Elliott added that new FEC filings show that American Crossroads "continues to be funded virtually entirely by billionaires."

Sure is easier to "strike a chord" when all you have to do is fine-tune your appeal to resonate with a few individuals...

Posted by: Redshift on September 21, 2010 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

So what does this all really mean? billionaires funding amazingly insane candidates. The country that made them billionaires wasn't good enough for them? They have to change it so that it reflects a modern feudalistic society? They want to inflict incredible suffering and misery on the majority of mankind? Sota leads you to believe that these people are truly evil. Oh by the way I'm all for everybody making as much money as they can as long as they don't stomp all over humanity in the process.

Posted by: Gandalf on September 21, 2010 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

This is a good thing for the democratic party.

There is no such thing as out corporate whoring the republican party, so the sooner democrats realize this, the sooner we should have stronger campaign finance laws (public financing) and the sooner we can have a democratic party that actually believes what is preaches in greater numbers (more elected democrats who believe in something and don't spend their days trying to split the difference on corporate whoreing).

If we can oust from leadership a barbara boxer and a nancy pelosi for someone with more cpnviction as well as understanding (say a second act for howard dean and maybe a place for a sheldon whitehouse), then I think the democratic party would be a progressive force again in a meaningful way. Not like it is now where 60% actually try to get progressive legislation and 40% make excuses because they believe the country is center right or because they are republicans who put a D on their name to get elected.

Posted by: no leaf clover on September 21, 2010 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Clearly, the billionaires think that insane candidates (and the gridlocked, wrecked government they will produce) will work out just dandy for their bottom line.

I guess that under the right conditions, even a billionaire fat cat can be an anarchist.

Trouble is, this sort of heh-heh-let's-screw-our-enemies-by-supporting-some-real-radicals tactic has a way of biting the billionaires in the butt. See, e.g., German industrialists supporting the National Socialists, and providing the slush funds that fueled Hitler's rise to power.

Do these guys really think that the 'Baggers are their long-term friends, and can stay bought?

Posted by: Bokonon on September 21, 2010 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

It's a good thing that the Bush Supreme Court appointees all pledged not to become "activist" judges once confirmed . Otherwise who knows what may have happened. The Supreme Court of the United States might, if we had activist judges, mistake corporations for people and perhaps even decide to uphold the argument that corporate spending on political advertising is the eqivalent of "free speech."
And furthermore, ... "What?!?"
Are you sure?
Oops, sorry, folks.

I guess that by finding for the plaintiff, Citizens United, the Court effectively gave the go ahead to unlimited spending by corporations in political campaigns, as long as the spending is done "independently" of the candidates' campaign committees.

And what's that you say?
According to Justice Stevens' dissenting opinion "the Court chose to hear argument on issues the parties had agreed were not to be presented to the Court and that it reached a decision on constitutionality when it could have found for the plaintiffs on narrower grounds." ... apparently without regard for what the framers of the Constitution might have actually intended.
Oh, yeah. The GOP doesn't cotton to judicial activism.

I guess some people figure they deserve the best government money can buy. No wonder the Tea-baggers are all upset. Too bad they can't identify their real enemies.

Posted by: VRin Michigan on September 22, 2010 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

The question is the size of the bewildered herd, that portion of the public most likely swayed by demagoguery of the kind about to be practiced by Rove and those of his ilk. The only real defense against it is to point out time and again that these ad campaigns are being funded solely by the, what, less than one half of one percent of the public that are billionaires whose only real concern is that they remain billionaires. Sure, there will be those who will remain blind to the con game being run, however the majority should remain cognizant of the recession's unresolved issue; that a small segment of the public least affected by it are the ones who benefited most from the federal bailout largesse. Essentially millions were left unemployed, forced into bankruptcy and foreclosure while billionaires had their investments guaranteed. Now these same billionaires want to remove from government those that aided their bailout solely because reform is being enacted against billionaire wishes. Clearly billionaires, and millionaires are mostly no more than overindulged children who want the other parent's supervision now that the parent in charge has said no, who are essentially holding their collective breath (i.e., freezing job creation) until they get their way, throwing the mother of all temper tantrums simply because the majority of the congressional Democratic majorities, and the president want to protect the public against future consequences of billionaire, and millionaire corruption.

Once this truth is told, the chances the majority will listen to anything remotely favoring GOP/Tea Smoker candidates is slight indeed. This logic is predicated however on there being a public minority who are truly the bewildered herd. If there is a majority, well, it becomes clear why certain of the Founding Fathers were anti-democracy.

Posted by: The ghost of Lenny Bruce on September 22, 2010 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK



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