DCCC Spending Too Heavily In Red Districts

Leaving aside the $1M targeting game that I posted on earlier today, I want to bring up a very serious point on targeting and DCCC independent expenditures. As of last week, here are the partisan voting indexes (PVIs, courtesy of the Cook Political Report) for DCCC targets, and the amount of money spent by the DCCC in each district from July 1st though September 21st:

Red Districts
AZ-08: $445,210.71. PVI: Republican +1.4
IL-06: $82,946.87. PVI: Republican +2.9
IN-02: $319,879.08. PVI: Republican +4.3
IN-08: $833,899.63. PVI: Republican +8.5
IN-09: $83,428.98. PVI: Republican +7.1
KY-04: $13,833.64. PVI: Republican +11.7
NY-24: $390,447.98. PVI: Republican +0.6
NC-11: $118,496.90. PVI: Republican +7.1
OH-15: $52,832.64. PVI: Republican +1.1
PA-10: $259,195.99. PVI: Republican +8.0
VA-02: $129,493.94. PVI: Republican +5.9
WI-08: $275,778.90. PVI: Republican +3.7
Total: $3,005,445.26

Blue Districts
CO-07: $118,907.65 PVI: Democratic +2.3
FL-22: $135,800.60. PVI: Democratic +3.6
IA-01: $357,042.22-- PVI: Democratic +4.8
NM-01: $230,526.42 PVI: Democratic +2.4
PA-06: $102,239.29 PVI: Democratic +2.2
WA-08: $28,204.03. PVI: Democratic +2.3
Total: $972,720.21

I do not dispute that we should challenge every district, no matter how red it may be. Also, I do not dispute that our chances to win many, if not all, of the red districts listed above are excellent this year. I also do not dispute that our chances to win the red districts the DCCC has recently spent money in are worse than some blue districts I have not listed. Further, I also do not dispute that other measures of how red or blue a district is, including Democratic performance and partisan voter registration numbers, should be taken into account. I just do not have that information in front of me at this time.

However, there is still a big problem with the DCCC's over-reliance on red districts in their targeting of late. While we may have roughly the same chances to win any of the above listed districts in 2006, we will have a far better chance of keeping the blue districts we win in 2008 and beyond than we will have of keeping the red districts that we win. I am all behind Chris Carney in PA-10, for example, but after he beats Don Sherwood this year, he is going to be justifiably considered a first-tier target by the NRCC every two years until he either loses or retires. However, if Patrick Murphy were to win in PA-08, or Dan Maffei were to win in NY-25, they would not be on the top of the NRCC target list very often, if ever. The DCCC would need to keep dumping cash into a Democratic-held PA-10 in both 2008 and 2010 in order to keep the seat. They would not need to dump nearly as much cash, if any, into Democratic-held PA-08 and NY-25.

Republican held red districts and Republican held blue districts may count the same toward a Democratic majority in 2006, but they do not count the same toward future Democratic majorities in elections after 2006. The more blue districts Democrats win in 2006, the more long lasting and difficult to topple our majority will become. There are a number of Republican0held blue districts where Democrats are competitive this year but so far have not received much, if any, DCCC resources: CT-02, CT-04, CT-05, KY-03, NH-02, NY-25, PA-07, PA-08, and WA-08. By contrast, the DCCC is lavishing resources on virtually every Republican held-red district in the top four tiers of my House forecast. That is strategically myopic. It has the potential to build an extremely tenuous majority based on red districts that we could lose in any bad year. It has the potential to build a caucus where large numbers of Democrats will feel the need to sell out core Democratic values in order to get elected (see Bean, Melissa).

Over the past three months, by a count of 3-1 the DCCC has spent its resources in Republican-held red districts. We need to be spending much more money in blue districts that will be easier to defend, and produce Democrats more likely to stay with the majority of the caucus on difficult votes. That would result in building a majority that can govern better, and has the potential to last longer. I am a big proponent of the fifty-state strategy that will bring the Democratic message everywhere. However, in the final weeks of a campaign, when it comes time to make the hard decisions and target the races where we can win, we need to implement a blue state strategy. Dumping 75% of our money into red districts and leaving so many winnable blue districts out in the cold is not a good way to build a sustainable Democratic majority that can enact progressive legislation.

With only five weeks left, the DCCC must shift more resources into Republican-held blue districts. If they do not, we could wake up to find ourselves winners on November 7th, but still not exactly in control.

Tags: blue district strategy, House 2006, Independent expenditures (all tags)

Comments

56 Comments

Re: DCCC Spending Too Heavily In Red Districts

So I looked at the latest polls over at http://electioncentral.tpmcafe.com/, and it looks like in 3 of the 6 districts the Dems have them won easily (PA-06, CO-07, and IA-01), with 2 of them tied (WA -08 and NM-01) and and one of them having no polls (FL-22).  

So I don't really have a problem spending less comparitively.  I agree with your assesment that once we win these, we will hold them for a long time, but I don't think the spending is that far off from where it should be considering the current state of the races.  

by jalby 2006-10-02 02:44PM | 0 recs
Clarification
The DCCC spending in the six blue districts you listed is fine. My problem is that they are all but ignorning the nine blue disitrcts I listed later on in favor of red seats.
by Chris Bowers 2006-10-02 02:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarification

When we discuss Republican spending we always say "Oh, they don't need to throw money at Taylor or Hayes (just for example) because they are stinking rich."  Is that a consideration in any of this?

by Robert P 2006-10-02 04:25PM | 0 recs
Re: DCCC Spending Too Heavily In Red Districts

It is also likely that the candidates in these districts have been able to raise a lot of money.  That is certainly true of Gabrielle Giffords, Patricia Madrid and Ron Klein.  And until Randy Graf won the GOP primary, AZ-08 was a lot closer.  And IN-09 was represented by Baron Hill (D) for several terms (and KY-04 was represented by Ken Lucas for several terms).  So while I agree to some degree, I think that you have to take thisn things into account, and also that someone like Chris Shays is a very good campaigner and has been in for a long time even if the district is +D (same as Jim Leach, for example).  And NY-24 is an open seat, which is usually the best time to challenge.  There is now enough to put money into NY-25 and PA-07 and 08, however, and NH-02 and some of the others.

by Mimikatz 2006-10-02 05:03PM | 0 recs
Re: DCCC Spending Too Heavily In Red Districts

"It has the potential to build a caucus where large numbers of Democrats will feel the need to sell out core Democratic values in order to get elected."

>Gosh ... ya think?

"Over the past three months, by a count of 3-1 the DCCC has spent its resources in Republican-held red districts."

>To paraphrase the immortal words of Prince Tallyrand, I wonder why they did that?"

"we could wake up to find ourselves winners on November 7th, but still not exactly in control"

>Oh, that's why!  I get it, now!

"We need to be spending much more money in blue districts that will be easier to defend, and produce Democrats more likely to stay with the majority of the caucus on difficult votes."

>To paraphrase 42, that very much depends upon what the meaning of "we" is.

"building a majority that can govern better, and has the potential to last longer....when it comes time to make the hard decisions and target the races where we can win, we need to implement a blue state strategy."

>Well, I'm for that, and apparently you're for that; but it's a little late to send Rahm to obedience school.

"Dumping 75% of our money into red districts and leaving so many winnable blue districts out in the cold is not a good way to build a sustainable Democratic majority that can enact progressive legislation."

>Obvious conclusion called for here!

>Snark aside, you do nice work, Mr. Bowers.

by JTL 2006-10-02 02:54PM | 0 recs
Re: PA-10

You should look at the 10th as a replay of the 17th.
Carney, like Holden, is in sync with the voters of the district. These folks are not wingnuts. They are socially conservative, traditionalists is how I prefer to describe them, with a good libertarian streak. They are probably closer to economic populists than free traders. As long as Carney stays in step with them, he can be relected for many years.

Last year the GOP targeted Tim Holden by nominating a well-known name, Paterno (Scott). JoePa was even out stumping for the kid. Yet Holden won easily. This year the GOP acknowledged they weren't going to knock him off and ran only a perfunctory opponent, who has since dropped out leaving Holden unopposed in this R majority district.

That is the potential of the 10th, for Dems to hold a Republican district for many terms.

by phillydem 2006-10-02 02:55PM | 0 recs
Re: PA-10
There also is the fact that Carney is blowing Sherwood out of the water. Shouldn't we at least be spending money in districts where we aren't way ahead?
by Chris Bowers 2006-10-02 02:57PM | 0 recs
Re: PA-10

I believe Cheney was just up at a fundraiser for Sherwood. The NRCC is spending money in this district, too. Carney isn't that far ahead of Sherwood in campaign money that he (we) can afford to relax.

If we can take and hold the 10th as we have the 17th, that offsets the 4th and the 15th where Rs hold majority D registration districts.

Don't forget, Dems will still control the governor's mansion when the 2010 redistricting comes up. We can try to make the 10th a little more Dem friendly.

BTW, it's a Lycoming College poll that has Carney up 47-38.

by phillydem 2006-10-02 03:38PM | 0 recs
Re: PA-10

Maybe Carney is "blowing Sherwood out of the water" because of critical help from the DCCC.  Furthermore, the campaign ain't over yet.  Keeping a major league scumbag from returning to DC is never a bad idea.

I agree with the poster above (and I live in PA-10): Carney is quite in tune with voters here, and will have no trouble holding onto this seat.  Furthermore, we may be on the cusp of a blue-shift in the American electorate.

I'd like to see your list above with a summary of the most recent polling data added to the voter registration numbers.  Then we'd see if A) the money was truly being wasted, and B) if the money is needed in the blue districts you cite as being neglected by the DCCC

by benthos 2006-10-02 06:37PM | 0 recs
Re: PA-10 info from Carney campaign

Chris,

Carney's campaign mgr posted this over at Kos about the funding aspect:
------------------------------
NYT says NRCC spent more in PA10 than... (6+ / 0-)

...all other races besides 3. (in print edition graphic, not lonline that I have seen)

NRCC is very scared about this race.

We are getting some help on the IE side from DCCC and AFSCME and have gotten some help from ATLA previously in TV and radio, but Sherwood is a self-funder who has been outspending us about 2-1.

We can always use your help here in rural PA!  

http://www.carneyforcongress.com/...

-Drew

Campaign Manager
Carney for Congress

by DrewEM on Tue Oct 03, 2006 at 05:05:20 PM PDT

by phillydem 2006-10-04 01:08AM | 0 recs
Re: DCCC Spending Too Heavily In Red Districts

I am bothered as much or more by how much is spent in one district (IN-08) ($834,000) compared to the rest of the country.  Most districts get zero, even with very competitive races.  Now admittedly IN-08 is an important race, but will a Democrat elected in IN-08 somehow have more power in Congress than Democrats who might be elected elsewhere?  I would think that a hundred thousand dropped into five other races could have had a far greater impact than $500,000 all spent here.  Plus, as Chris writes, if the Dem wins, it's going to be a tough fight in 2008 again.  

by hilltopper 2006-10-02 02:59PM | 0 recs
Re: DCCC Spending Too Heavily In Red Districts

I saw that figure a few weeks ago and scratched my head. It's not a red vs blue issue, it's an effectiveness and fairness issue. We should be able to get more bang for our buck in several blue states and good red state candidates have been stiffed totally to give so much to one district in Indiana.  I suspect DLC ideology has something to do with the distribution of funds.

by FishOutofWater 2006-10-02 04:41PM | 0 recs
Look a little closer

But take a look at how much and which districts the DCCC is spending in 4 of these red district races.

Total for:

AZ-08
IN-02
IN-08
NY-24
WI-08

= 2.265 million.

That's the lion's share of the red district spending you point out. I would argue that each of THESE red districts has a very good shot of staying in Democratic hands for years and years.

AZ-08 - Tuscon gets bluer and bluer every year.

IN-02 - South Bend based district elected Tim Roemer before and still has a fairly heavy manufactoring presence. This used to be the center northern FDR democrats in the state.

IN-08 - This was the center of southern Democrats in the state and is still heavily Democratic with the right congressman. It will be Ellsworth's district as long as he wants it. Think Mike McIntyre in NC.

NY-24 - This is almost a blue district. NY isn't exactly hostile territory for Democrats. So if we pick it up, it shouldn't be hard to maintain.

WI-08 - Once again, a region of the country where Democrats are generally not looked down upon. It's been represented by a democrat before, has a blue collar union presence, and will vote for a Democrat again.

So these five seats make up the bulk of the disparity in spending. I have no problem with this strategy. I would imagine they're heavily targeting these races because this is the best year to either knock out a R incumbent that is usually safe due to incumbancy, or to pick up an open R seat that we know will happily vote for Democrats in the future.

We need these seats to build a solid majority. If we win them, they won't flip back in 2 years, or probably even in 20.

by adamterando 2006-10-02 03:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Look a little closer
Fair enough on AZ-08 and NY-24. Not sure what I think of the rationale for the others though.
by Chris Bowers 2006-10-02 03:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Look a little closer

John Brademas: represented South Bend and Mishwaka for 22 years (59 - 81).
Roemer : 12 years (91-03).

Bloody 8th: This is probably the most marginal, but someone commented on here that when they redistricted in '01 this was supposed to be a Democratic district. So the 50/50 split between Dem and Repub congressman over the the years should swing back to Dems if Ellsworth is elected. Once again, McIntyre and Bob Etheridge I believe represent comparable districts in the South. Actually with Vincennes and Terre Haute in there, you could even compare it to Lane Evans district in Illinois.

Wi-08: Another iffy one, but with the right Dem I still believe it will stay blue. Remember, David Obey's district was represented by republicans for 30 years before he began representing it. In northern industrial states like Wisconsin, I see no reason why a Democrat could not easily keep a seat. I think Lane Evans or possibly Bart Stupak's districts are a good comparison for this district.

by adamterando 2006-10-02 03:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Look a little closer

I am in Ethridge's district. Registration in my county is still Dem but they go red when they see a liberal or Yankee running for President. However, there is a hard blue push moving S from Chapel Hill. The Republicans have totally screwed the traditional  employers in this area - tobacco, textiles and furniture making.  They have tied the hands of the libertarians.  There is room for a Democratic resurgence here.

by FishOutofWater 2006-10-02 04:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Look a little closer

There's a reason that so much money has been dumped into the IN-8.  I worked at the Indiana Statehouse during the 2001 redistricting and personally know the guy who drafted the maps for the state.  

The partisanship of the district was derived through the use of three statewide low profile races (Auditor, Treasurer, and clerk of courts) at the precinct level, and the mean of these races was used as a partisan index.  Everyone though that the then speaker of the Indiana House was going to run from the IN-8, because the district was drawn with a 2-1 D-R advantage.  That this district hasn't been won by a Democrat is a shame, because it is winnable.

Do you know how Cook gets his partisan voter index?  Do you have NCEC DPI numbers for the various districts with the GOTV and Persusian Indexes? This is the gold standard, and I'd trust these numbers more than what Cook has.  I highly suspect that presidential vote is being used in Cook's partisan voting index, which is just idiotic if true, because  the idea of a partisan voting index is to estimate how a totally ignorant voter with no more information than party will vote.  Presidential vote is not a measure of part strength because even the politcally brain dead have at least some information beyond party about presidential candidates.

Low profile races are the key to determining partisanship, and the effort to characterize  districts as red or blue for congressional votes using presidential votes as a proxy is a disservice that results from the red state/blue state rhetoric.

I have faith that Democrats will take the House based upon victories in Red districts, and that they will win based upon economic issues and not Iraq.

by ManfromMiddletown 2006-10-02 03:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Look a little closer

That's right! You were the one that worked in the IN statehouse. Do you think the state house will go back to the Dems this fall?

by adamterando 2006-10-02 03:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Look a little closer

Yes,  I think that Republicans are going to suffer in the Repubican areas near South Bend, and further south in the SW corner of the state that are upset about DST, the Toll Road deal, the problems at the BMV, and a pattern of placing anti-government Republicans in well paid consulting positions that are ripping apart state government.

In one case, the brother of Rep Mike Pence (IN-6) who ran the family business into bankrupcty, was appointed to restructure the Indiana department of Environmental management to make it more "reponsive" to business even while the Pence Family business owed $9Million to that agency for environmental violations.  (They never paid the bills, because the bankruptcy court was never able to recover money from the company, it wiped Rep. Pence out, but the liability was limited to his stock because it was an LLC.  Even more ironic since Pence was arguing for the new bankruptcy bill that makes it harder for families to get out from underneath debt at the same time the government picked up the tab for the collapse of his family business.)

by ManfromMiddletown 2006-10-02 04:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Look a little closer

Did the Pence story get much play, or was it ignored by the media?

by adamterando 2006-10-02 04:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Look a little closer

Barry only released it today.  I've ben anxious for Barry to get this out.  We're going to have to see how it plays.

by ManfromMiddletown 2006-10-02 04:47PM | 0 recs
Re: DCCC Spending Too Heavily In Red Districts

There are only 17 blue districts represented by Republicans in the entire country. There is no way in hell we are winning 15 of those 17 seats.

Many of those red districts you mention have been independently polled with the Democrat ahead. Those districts are generally unfriendly to Democrats, so they require a stronger push to keep voters in our column as the GOP incumbents attack and pander to the large wingnut base in these areas.

The political maps just are not in our favor. There are already 41 Democrats from Bush districts, and we're still the minority. That's the reality of gerrymandering. Democrats choose to crowd together in urban environments, so we often have to play on GOP turf to go fishing for seats.

by OfficeOfLife 2006-10-02 03:06PM | 0 recs
question on Senate forecast

Sorry for being slightly off-topic, but I was looking at your Senate forecast, and I was wondering: what happens if Dems win six seats, and the Senate is tied, 49-49-2? Neither party technically has 50% of the Senate seats. Do Dems get majority control, since both indies caucus with Democrats? Or do Republicans win, since the count is technically tied and Cheney is still the tiebreaking vote?

by dwbh 2006-10-02 03:09PM | 0 recs
Re: question on Senate forecast
Well, that will be up to Lieberman.
by Chris Bowers 2006-10-02 03:19PM | 0 recs
Re: question on Senate forecast

That's the sly game Lieberman is playing here. He knows that if it's 49-49-2, the Repubs and Dems will both be courting him with plush committee assignments. It's a win-win situation for him unless Lamont can knock him off.

by Hoyapaul 2006-10-02 03:33PM | 0 recs
Re: question on Senate forecast

Lieberman is already slated to chair the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs within the party; I imagine that's a nice enough plum for him.

by Adam B 2006-10-03 01:23PM | 0 recs
Re: question on Senate forecast

"Do Dems get majority control, since both indies caucus with Democrats?"

If both were to caucus with dems, Reid would get 51 votes.  If not and the vote is 50-50, Cheney breaks the tie.  

by hilltopper 2006-10-02 03:38PM | 0 recs
Re: DCCC Spending Too Heavily In Red Districts

Assuming Lieberman wins...

P.S. Can someone give me a complete list of the 17 BLUE districts that are currently held by Republicans?

Much appreciated in advance.

by JackBourassa 2006-10-02 03:27PM | 0 recs
Re: DCCC Spending Too Heavily In Red Districts

And by the way...

I think we can take ALL 17 of those districts and there is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON why we shouldn't.

But I really don't think spending a little more in red districts is that big of a deal.

by JackBourassa 2006-10-02 03:28PM | 0 recs
Re: DCCC Spending Too Heavily In Red Districts

I disagree.

The oft-used sports phrase "you gotta take it one game at a time" is appropriate here. The DCCC needs to focus on getting control this year, and it likely believes that to topple incumbents (or win open seats) in redder districts will take more cash than those in Democratic-leaning districts.

But whatever the rationale, changing spending patterns should be based upon the current year, because you never know what will happen in the future. Perhaps some of the marginally red districts you cite will move to neutral or better in the next 2-4 years. And some of the blue seats may move in the opposite direction. Perhaps the newly installed Dem representative in a red district will be a fundraising king or queen once in office, and will be able to fend off challenges better than a fundraising lightweight in what is a marginally blue district this time around. Trying to plan around complete uncertainties years in advance is like game-planning for a football game 5 games down the road when there's tough game on the schedule next Sunday. There's too much that can change between now and then.

If the DCCC is spending big money on races in which the Dem seems to be coasting, then yes, they should be criticized for their over-spending. But criticizing them for not shifting things around for 2008 or later when the big battle (winning control THIS year, which will turn on the money spigots, etc.) doesn't make much sense to me.

by Hoyapaul 2006-10-02 03:29PM | 0 recs
Re: DCCC Spending Too Heavily In Red Districts

I was under the impression that PA-08 and PA-07 were each getting about $2.25 million in funding from DCCC. Should be plenty, considering that Patrick Murphy is eschewing the network ad spending in favor of cable targeting.

by PsiFighter37 2006-10-02 03:31PM | 0 recs
Re: DCCC Spending Too Heavily In Red Districts

I wish you would put all this info together like Fantasy Sports/Sabremetrics where people can study the stats without the spin. Instead of relying on Chuck Schumer and Rahm Emanuel and the media to say who is and isn't a good candidate you can look at the facts.

A blue candidate who pulls +5 points in district with a red Partisan Voter index is a great candidate, even if said candidate is boring as sin. The same goes for  consultants. A consultant who wins all the time by a 5% margin in +15% partisan index districts isn't necessarily better than a consultant who loses all the time by 5% in a -15% district.

Baseball has all kinds of stats like Value Over Replacement Level (VORP) and park adjusted stats to adjust for stats for players who played in a hitters park like Fenway or a pitchers park like Shea. Politics would benefit from this kind of cold analysis on a district by district basis.

I think MyDD could really be the center of a poltical version of 'Moneyball', a system of judging political expenditures from the perspective of observable quanitfiable value, not perceived value from entrenched players and consultants.

by joejoejoe 2006-10-02 03:42PM | 0 recs
I've thought of that in regard to politics

You would think there would be a wave in that regard, evaluating districts via partisan index and cost of media buy, etc. I've never spent much time on House races but I'm sure some districts are more open than others to vote against the presidential partisan index when it comes to lower races. Of course, there's the candidate vs. candidate factor which is fluid and potentially overwhelms the math in certain cycles. But I still think an exhaustive mathematical study would be valid, and point out longterm faulty subjective judgment, as well as hidden opportunity elsewhere.

I loathe baseball but I've worked in football and basketball stats for more than a decade. It's incredible how ignorant the mainstream media is regarding the most vital stats. For instance, the telling stat of yards per pass attempt differential is something CBS and Fox and ESPN will never mention but it decides one game after another especially in the playoffs. It's the simple measure of a team's offensive yards per attempt compared to what it allows defensively. The Colts led the league last year at +2.4 with Pittsburgh a hair behind at +2.3. Everyone I know who evaluates NFL stats looked at that matchup as the real Super Bowl and I think it turned out that way. Pittsburgh had incredible stats for a #6 seed. Last season in the playoffs any team with at least a 1/2 yard edge over it's opponent in the yards per pass attempt differential went 8-0 straight up and against the spread.

by jagakid 2006-10-02 04:35PM | 0 recs
Re: DCCC Spending Too Heavily In Red Districts

We really should win 8-12 of these with a decent Dem year.  

by hilltopper 2006-10-02 03:46PM | 0 recs
Disagree with your analysis

and that doesn't happen very often.

Weatherunderground above has looked at the red districts you mention, but I want to talk about the blue districts.  I agree with you in only one of the six seats you mention -- WA-08, where Burner has been close for ages and deserves some more DCCC turkee.

Of the remaining districts, two -- FL-22 and PA-06 -- aren't being funded by the DCCC because the Dem challengers are doing fine on their own.  Ron Klein is the top-funded Dem challenger in the nation, and the money differential between him and Shaw isn't big enough to make any difference in an area where the airwaves will already be blanketed by both candidates to the point of ridiculousness.  Giving more money to Klein won't make him win; frankly, he won't even be able to use it.  Sames goes for Lois Murphy, who has more than enough cash to beat Gerlach on her own.

In NM-01, the media market is cheap enough that more money for Madrid would be equally pointless.  When the airwaves are already covered, more cash can't help.  I believe the same is true in IA-01, where Braley has the added advantage of the Culver and Vilsack machines working in tandem to pull up the entire ticket.  We learned from the Dean campaign that after a certain point, more money becomes useless and even counterproductive.

The sixth candidate, Ed Pearlmutter, won a contentious primary not too long ago.  I'd expect the DCCC to pump more money into this campaign before long.  Give them time -- general election season has only just begun there.

by Nonpartisan 2006-10-02 03:48PM | 0 recs
Re: DCCC Spending Too Heavily In Red Districts

Ah, I knew someone would bring this up.

The big difference is that Dean's 50-state strategy is based upon directing adequate resources to building long-term infrastructure that can help Democrats down the road.

This idea of diverting resources to Democratic challengers in bluer districts on the basis of hypothetical musings about the future difficulty of holding the seats is nothing like that idea. This is like spending 2006 cash to help 2008 incumbents win, without knowing now whether those 2008 incumbents will even need the cash.

This makes little sense, unlike the idea of building up a solid infrastructure that has a great chance of helping in the future and is not based upon hypothetical predicitions of the future.

by Hoyapaul 2006-10-02 03:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Look a little closer

I thought the NRCC had been equalizing it. Haven't they been running non-stop ads on Ellsworth?

by adamterando 2006-10-02 03:59PM | 0 recs
Re: DCCC Spending Too Heavily In Red Districts

Chris, the "Blue" seats will be mostly ours.  It's those "Red" seats that mean the difference between control or not.   If the "breeze" is enough to deliver us all the Blue seats, then spending in the Red districts gives us a shot at control.  If we miss some of the Blue districts because we didn't spend as much money there, then there wasn't much breeze in the first place.  

The spending pattern to me suggests the Democrats are going for the jugular, not being content to just narrow the gap.  I say:  yay.

by InigoMontoya 2006-10-02 04:20PM | 0 recs
Re: PA-10
I'll be upgrading that in my next update to "toss-up / lean Democrat." The onyl reason it won't be lean Dem yet is because Sherwood has more money, and the seat was left unopposed in 2004 and 2002.
by Chris Bowers 2006-10-02 04:23PM | 0 recs
Re: DCCC Spending Too Heavily In Red Districts

I agree, but the point is to look at which seats are the most vulnerable now, whether it is in a blue-leaning or red-leaning district. Some of the "red" seats on the list very well might be better "low-lying fruit" than the "blue" seats because of the personalities running and the pecularities of the district.

The idea of diverting resources from low-lying fruit now because of hypothetical thinking that they will be harder to defend in the future is the idea I have a problem with. Let's focus on winning now, and worry about defending 2008 seats AFTER this election, not now when we are trying to gain those very seats.

by Hoyapaul 2006-10-02 04:25PM | 0 recs
Re: DCCC Spending Too Heavily In Red Districts

Seems to me, having a Dem Congressman in your "red" district getting things done on behalf of the Democratic party for the people--that's a good way to change that district into a "blue" district.

Changing red districts to blue in such states as Arizona, Indiana and North Carolina can make those "red" states competitive in national elections.  Doing so in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania can make them NOT competitive.

by admiralnaismith 2006-10-02 04:33PM | 0 recs
Re: DCCC Spending Too Heavily In Red Districts

I think all the raw information is there and Chris Bowers is obviously very brilliant in compiling all this information but I don't think it's accessible to average poltical reader who isn't that literate with statistics.

Bill James revolutionized baseball by compiling a book of only what was observable thru data, not perception. First the data available to a few hardcore fans who read it the Baseball Abstract mostly for fun. Among the early readers were a tiny number of baseball insiders who saw the opportunity to leverage the data in the operation of a ball club, to find value in players that tradition scouts missed. A chubby player with a funny swing often bypassed by the typical athlete that 'looks like a ballplayer' in the minors - without respect to the actual performance on the field. Oakland A's GM Billy Beane was the focus of the Michael Lewis book 'Moneyball' that describes the practical value - being able to compete with fewer resources. The A's make the playoffs about as much as the Yankees with a far smaller payroll.

I guess what I would like to see are some creative new measures that distill the raw statistics into easily understood concepts. Here are a few baseball stats that could be translated to politics.

VORP - Value Over Replacement Player. The number of runs contributed beyond what a replacement-level player at the same position would contribute if given the same percentage of team plate appearances. VORP scores do not consider the quality of a player's defense.

This could be a measure of the % candidate pulls +/- partisan voter index

You could index some of these stats to money spend in the district to grade out the effectiveness of consultants on a per dollar basis, on a raw basis without regard to spending, against the PVI, against GOTV figures, and against other districts.

By measuring and quanitifying these races with hard data instead of the subjective 'Candidate X ran a good/awful campaign' I think you can dramatically improve results.

I don't want to ramble too much but I'd like to see all the data Chris Bowers compiles presented in a graphic user interface like Pollster.com (formerly Mystery Pollster) does for the Senate races.

Check out this graph from MLB.com...

http://tinyurl.com/gkm9c

Look at all the interactive comparisons you can make of different players and different stats. It would be great to have somebody fund that kind of interactive data for political campaigns, down to the state house districts.

Look at this graph for the MO Senate...

http://www.pollster.com/polls/?state=MO& amp;race=senate_race

Pollster.com is state-of-the-art for political data yet it's far, far behind any sport site in terms of the amount of data points a user can compare and contrast.

I think what Chris is doing is fantastic but it's like the original hardbound Baseball Abstract. I'd like to see him (or some grant fund him) to take it to the level that MLB provides for baseball fans.

by joejoejoe 2006-10-02 04:40PM | 0 recs
Re: DCCC Spending Too Heavily In Red Districts

Although I am an accountant, I think you are relying too heavily on the numbers and ignoring the human element.  Some districts are better for us, but the GOP has great incumbents.  Other districts are tougher, but we have superstars running.  Too much of the country is gerrymandered against us to be too picky with our targetting.

Also, as a moderate, I would be pleased to see both parties relying more heavily on purple districts in order to keep their extremists on a shorter leash.

by Francis Vecellio 2006-10-02 05:11PM | 0 recs
fairly obvious, chris

and it's tied to the DCCC's attempts to pick off 2004 dean people in primaries with DCCC-backed moderates. once a house win looked possible, rahm's been working to build up a critical mass of DLC blue dog moderate types, both for his own career as majority leader as well as to blunt any liberal resurgence during what should be a change election.

we've been played.

by wu ming 2006-10-02 05:53PM | 0 recs
I agree

We should pick up the 18 blue seats and purge those Satanic 41 moderates from the House, for a beautiful net loss of 23 seats. Democratic heaven!

by OfficeOfLife 2006-10-02 11:24PM | 0 recs
The counterpoint to your argument, Chris

is that if we don't take these Red districts this year, we won't be able to do it for a good while later.  Another benefit is that, if we do take those red districts this year, there won't be a safe Republican incumbent there in 2008 raising money to give back to the NRCC and campaign for other Republicans.

There are tradeoffs to targetting more blue districts vs more red districts.  I think it is a good sign that they are targetting a lot of red districts, and certainly an improvement over years past.  Perhaps their resource allocation is not ideal, but it seems better than what he had been seeing before.

by Fran for Dean 2006-10-02 06:20PM | 0 recs
Just win, baby

I think you're not only looking a gift horse in the mouth but down his throat and a mile up his arsehole.

If we win the House by any means we are so far ahead of where we are now that we should all kiss the dirty sidewalk in front of the Rayburn House Office Building.

The Reps have a huge money advantage. I imagine, knowing exactly jack shit, that the early Dem money in the Red state races could be a head fake designed to suck some of that GOP cash into places where it isn't really needed.

Besides, the DCCC raised the cash; would it be asking too much to let them decide how to spend it?

The secret to progressive legislation is to elect shitloads of Democrats, 1936 and 1966 style. Having conservatives and moderates in the mix doesn't hurt because you can always pork around to get votes here and there much more easily than you can from Republicans in those same dirtbag districts.

Remember, in a Democracy, it's the people who are to blame.

by stevehigh 2006-10-02 06:44PM | 0 recs
Expenditures database

A little late to be relevent for this post, but for the interested I've put together and maintain an easily browsable database of the independent expenditures by the NRCC and DCCC. Right now it's updated through last night (The NRCC has laid down millions of dollar since the 21st).

You can find it at expendtrak.ballotvox.org. It defaults to the DCCC's expenditures.

by loyalson 2006-10-02 07:05PM | 0 recs
Re: DCCC Spending Too Heavily In Red Districts

I see IL-06 in there and being from that area, I know that this seat is now a "winnable" red state, so I have no problem with the spending on the soon to be Dem Seat.  If Duckworth gets into power, it will be hard for the Republicans to unseat her.

by shoeshine boy 2006-10-02 07:38PM | 0 recs
Re: DCCC Spending Too Heavily In Red Districts

Let me say from the outset I applaud Chris Bowers work and numbers.

I think the kind of numbers he generates has the potential to get more people engaged in politics. Let's leave aside polling data and focus entirely on actual election results. You could still come up with new stats that measure the spending, turnout, and performance of the candidate versus the partisan voter index, the Presidential candidate, the Governor, etc.. Just by playing around with these numbers (and I mean playing like a political junkie would play a few months after an election when nobody else is paying attention) you might reveal new relationships between turnout and spending that are counterintuitive.

Say a district has an incredibly strong history of turnout in a favorable partisan voter district. Another similar favorable partisan district has low turnout - that suggests an infrastructure problem in the one district. That kind of information leaps out in a sortable graphic database but it's hard to find in table and column information.

I'm not saying this isn't available already but my point is there are lots of people who could make informed comments on the data if it was in an easier format to digest. You don't have to be a stats geek to play Fantasy Sports but you quickly learn stats if you want to be competitive. That's the reason for making this data more accessible - make more people who are competitive use hard data to make informed decisions.

Without easy to understand data and references I'm not sure the grassroots regulars have as much power as they should. If somebody is a regular canvasser and learns their district is underperforming in GOTV compared to other districts maybe that person would be motivated to teach themselves the ins and outs of stats or develop a better plan for their district. Having a certain level of turnout in a district could be standarized (VORT - Replacement Turnout) and enforced by leadership at the DNC, DCCC, DSCC etc.

I think stats can enhance the enjoyment of participating in politics just like reading a boxscore enhances your enjoyment of baseball or reading a racing form enhances your enjoyment of horse racing. There isn't a set of easily digested accepted stats or indexes in politics to measure things like performance against the PVI on election day, relative turnout Dem vs. GOP, or cost per % improvement against the mean. Invent your own measure. What does exist is rudimentary (PVI, turnout) and doesn't necessarily provide the data needed to make good decisions.

Here is an explanation of sabermetrics for those who aren't familiar with the term, "Bill James defined sabermetrics as "the search for objective knowledge about baseball." Thus, sabermetrics attempts to answer objective questions about baseball, such as "which player on the Red Sox contributed the most to the team's offense?" or "How many home runs will Ken Griffey, Jr. hit next year?" It cannot deal with the subjective judgments which are also important to the game, such as "Who is your favorite player?" or "That was a great game."

I think their are some objective questions about party infrastructure and local performance that go unexamined and problems go unaddressed because the data isn't widely distributed and widely understood.

I'll try to invent some political statistical measures and post a diary that is more thought out and less of a ramble than my comments. I just think tapping into the fun aspect of playing with these numbers ultimately would improve the infrastructure of the party because more people would be speaking in hard terms instead of 'you're running a great campaign' or 'Candidate X is inspirational'. More people need to be focused on turnout and GOTV and I think fun statistics and competive comparisons are a good way to teach and motivate people as well as limit the funds for stupid consultants who don't deliver according to the stats.

by joejoejoe 2006-10-02 09:07PM | 0 recs
Re: DCCC Spending Too Heavily In Red Districts

I hate to plug my own project a third time in the space of a few hours, but I too thought the data could stand to be in a much more accessible format for people that don't take raw data and plug it into SPSS for their analysis. So I built a ruby-on-rails based database that breaks down expenditures into their sponsoring committees, the targeted candidate, the district the candidate is running in, and the firm hired. The database offers of the committees, candidates, districts, and firms, and each view is cross-linked and sortable, so for instance while viewing the DCCC's list of expenditures each mention of a district, firm, or candidate links to the breakdown for that district, firm, or candidate. It's not perfect, and I'm looking into ways to improve it, but I think it's more open to the average person than one big flat text file that can only be broken down or sorted in one particular way.

If you're interested in taking a look, you can view the database here. While I imagine Chris' main interest with the data is analysis, my interest is to make this sort of data as easily digestible as possible, so I'm very open to ideas for improving the display.

by loyalson 2006-10-02 09:21PM | 0 recs
Oops

I meant to post this comment here.

by loyalson 2006-10-02 11:34PM | 0 recs
Re: PA-10

Amen.

Just a funny aside, the dem backed by the HDCC (state leg. house democrats) in the Southwest corner of WA just lost the primary to a guy who raised $100 and didn't doorbell a soul.  But the HDCC in Washington absolutely has it's shit together, and is providing serious money to lot's of worthy challengers and endangered incumbents in the swing districts of Washington.

So take that for what it's worth.

PortDork

by PortDork 2006-10-02 11:46PM | 0 recs
Partisan Index too weak

I think the biggest problem with the partisan index is that while it may be a handy tool to easily compare two districts, it isn't good at guaging local Democratic and Republican performance averages over a number of cycles and with a number of different elections.

For example, Pennsylvania Republicans in the Philly suburbs have been voting for Democrats for President in decent numbers but still for Republicans on the Congressional level.  Knowing this fact, what good is it to know that Kerry won the district?

Similarly, in places like Indiana, Kentucky and Georgia Democrats either hold or are competing for districts with a significant Republican advantage in the "partisan index."  However, you are trying to describe how a district will vote on the local level for a Congressman from the area by how they voted for what they perceived was an out of touch liberal from the coast.

You remember the old Pace ads where the southerners would say "New York City!"  Well that is exactly the problem with analysis that focuses entirely on a variable like the partisan index.  Of course, compiling all the data to create the index was a worthwhile task, but getting a deeper Democratic performance (like, in Arizona how did they vote for Napolitano or members of the legislature?) would tell I believe a truer story of these districts actually competitiveness.

by chrisishardcore 2006-10-03 04:36AM | 0 recs
Re: DCCC Spending Too Heavily In Red Districts

Vulnerable Republican Held House Seats
In order of Paritisan Voting index
Blue Districts
1)Connecticut-2(Simmons-R)D+8 Tossup
2)Iowa-2(Leach-R)D+7 Republican Favored
3)Connecticut-4(Shays-R)D+5 Tossup
4)Iowa-1(OPEN-Nussle-R)D+5 Tossup
5)Florida-22(Shaw-R)D+4 Tossup
6)Connecticut-5(Johnson-R)D+4 Leans Republican
7)Pennsylvania-7(Weldon-R)D+4 Tossup
8)Illinios-10(Kirk-R)D+4 Republican Favored
9)New Hampshire-2(Bass-R)D+3 Leans Republican
10)Pennsylvania-8(Fitzpatrick-R)D+3 Leans Republican
11)New York-25(Walsh-R)D+3 Republican Favored
12)Colorado-7(OPEN-Beauprez-R)D+2 Tossup
13)New Mexico-1(Wilson-R)D+2 Tossup
14)Pennsylvania-6(Gerlach-R)D+2 Tossup
15)Kentucky-3(Northup-R)D+2 Leans Republican
16)Washington-8(Reichert-R)D+2 Leans Republican
17)New York-3(King-R)D+2 Republican Favored
18)Nevada-3(Porter-R)D+1 Leans Republican

Democrats will pick up Colorado-7 and Iowa-1 both are open seats. +2D

Connecticut-2,Connecticut-4,New Mexico-1 and Pennsylvania-6. The Republican House incumbents were elected or re-elected in 2004 with less than 55% of the popular vote  Simmons(CT-2),Wilson(NM-1)and Gerlach(PA-6)have faced tough races since they were first elected to Congress. +5D

Florida-22 and Pennsylvania-7- The Democrats fielded top tier challengers to unseat the established GOP incumbents. a strong Democratic wave will probally help Ron Klien(FL-22)and Joe Sestak(PA-7).
Red Districts(R+0)Bradley(NH-1)Republican Favored.
Red Districts(R+1)
1)Arizona-8(OPEN-Kolbe-R)R+1 Leans Democratic
2)New York-24(OPEN-Boehlert-R)R+1 Tossup
3)Ohio-1(Chabot-R)R+1 Tossup
4)Ohio-15(Pryce-R)R+1 Tossup
5)New Jersey-7(Ferguson-R)R+1 Leans Republican
6)Minnesota-1(Gutkneckt-R)R+1 Republican Favored
7)New York-19(Kelly-R)R+1 Republican Favored.

Democrats will pick up Arizona-8 and New York-24 due to the fact both are open seats. +7D

In Ohio-1 and Ohio-15. The Democratic Nominees are benifiting from the unpopularity of the OHIO GOP. Bush,Taft,and Ney.

Red Districts(R+2)Florida-16(OPEN Foley-R)Tossup

Florida-16 is an automatic Democratic pickup due to the scandals involving the former occupant. +8D

Red Districts(R+3)
1)Illinios-6(OPEN-Hyde-R)Tossup
2)New York-20(Sweeney-R)Leans Republican
3)California-11(Pombo-R)Republican Favored
4)Florida-8(Keller-R)Republican Favored

Illinois-6 is a possible pick-up due to the fact it is an open seat election. +9D

Red Districts(R+4)
1)Indiana-2(Chocola-R)Tossup
2)Arizona-5(Hayworth-R)Leans Republican
3)Florida-13(OPEN-Harris-R)Leans Republican
4)Texas-23(Bonilla-R)Leans Republican
5)Wisconsin-8(OPEN-Green-R)Leans Republican
6)Florida-9(OPEN-Bilirakis-R)Republican Favored

Indiana-2 is a definite pickup for the Democrats due to fact Republican incumbent won all of his House Races with less than 55% of the popular vote. +10D

Red District(R+5)
1)Minnesota-6(OPEN-Kennedy-R)Leans Republican
2)New York-29(Kuhl-R)Leans Republican
3)Virginia-10(Wolf-R)Republican Favored

Red District-(R+6)
1)Ohio-18(OPEN-Ney-R)Tossup
2)Virginia-2(Drake-R)Tossup

Ohio-18 is a definite pickup= OPEN Seat.
Virginia-2 the Republican Incumbent is a freshman who was elected with 55% of the popular vote. +11D

Red District(R+7)
1)Indiana-9(Sodrel-R)Tossup
2)North Carolina-11(Taylor-R)Tossup

Indiana-9 and North Carolina-11 are definite pick up for the Democrats. The Republican incumbents were elected or re-elected in 2004 with less than 55% of the popular vote. Democrats fielded top tier challengers. +13D

Red District(R+8)
1)Pennsylvania-10(Sherwood-R)Tossup
2)Nevada-2(OPEN Gibbons-R)Republican Favored

Pennsylvania-10 is a likely pickup for the Democrats due to scandals involving the Republican incumbent and Democrats have a top tier challenger. +14D

Red District(R+9)
1)Indiana-8(Hostettler-R)Tossup
2)Colorado-4(Musgrave-R)Leans Republican

Indiana-8 is a definete pick up for the Democrats- Republican incumbent is a weak fundraiser. Never received more than 55% of the popular vote in all of his House Races. The Democrats have fielded a top tier challenger +15D

Other Democratic Pick ups are Kentucky-4 and Texas-22. +17D

Definite Wins
OPEN SEATS
1)Arizona-8
2)Colorado-7
3)Florida-16
4)Iowa-1
5)New York-24
6)Ohio-18
7)Texas-22
Vulnerble Incumbents
1)Connecticut-2
2)Indiana-2
3)Indiana-8
4)Indiana-9
5)Kentucky-4
6)New Mexico-1
7)North Carolina-11
8)Pennsylvania-6

by CMBurns 2006-10-03 10:40AM | 0 recs
by estebban 2006-12-04 12:04AM | 0 recs

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