RNC Considers Siphoning Funds from McCain to Senate GOPers

It was only a matter of time. The McCain campaign has, in effect, been running in recent days on a platform of the impending doom facing Senate and House Republicans. In return, congressional Republicans in even the reddest parts of the country have been seen hugging Barack Obama and shunning John McCain. Now, Jonathan Martin reports, the Republican National Committee is laying down its chips, shunning the role party committees traditionally take during presidential elections by earmarking significant funds to help the GOP maintain at least a 41-seat minority in the Senate.

The Republican National Committee, growing nervous over the prospect of Democrats' winning a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, is considering tapping into a $5 million line of credit this week to aid an increasing number of vulnerable incumbents, top Republicans say.

With party strategists fearing a bloodbath at the polls, GOP officials are shifting to triage mode, determining who can be saved and where to best spend their money.

And with the House and Senate Republican campaign committees being drastically outspent by their Democratic counterparts, and outside groups such as Freedom's Watch offering far less help than was once anticipated, Republicans are turning to the national party committee as a lender of last resort.

A decision is imminent because television time must be reserved and paid for upfront, and available slots are dwindling.

Party insiders, according to Martin, tried to play this move off not as a diversion of money away from McCain, but it's difficult to it as anything else. There are limited resources in politics -- yes, even for the well-funded Obama campaign, and certainly this year for Republicans -- and believe you me if McCain were down by a point or two rather than eight the $5 million loan would be going to him rather than Senate Republicans. Indeed, this is what occurred within the Republican Party in 1996, when the RNC shifted funds away from lagging presidential nominee Bob Dole towards the party's efforts in Congress. But while the GOP was able to stem losses in Congress that year, losing eight seats in the House and actually picking up two seats in the Senate -- keeping both chambers under Republican control -- the party's chances to win majorities on Capitol Hill or even curtail losses this fall are decidedly worse. At the least, it appears that the apparent civil war within the party could continue yet another day.

Tags: John McCain, Republican Party, RNC, Senate 2008, White House 2008 (all tags)

Comments

18 Comments

iphoning Funds from McCain to Senate GOPers

I remain unconvinced that Obama has put this election away, and I say that as a partisan Democrat.

I think Republicans have it right when they point out how much the race has changed in the past month. The DNC happened and it looked like Obama sealed the deal. The RNC happened and I was sure that the Palin pick was going to drown the ticket right out of the gate... it didn't. Instead, after the two conventions, the race was essentially tied and there were state polls in CO and NM which gave a lot of Democrats worry.

Nate Silver of 538 pointed out that McCain's surge was interrupted slightly before the economic crisis exploded into the news, but granting that premise, it is ridiculous to assert that the bad news from Wall Street changed the landscape dramatically in Obama's favor. In that time, Obama has put away MI and PA for good. But let's not forget he needs more than that to win the election.

If you look at state polling averages at Pollster.com, you would see that the race in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Washington is closer than the race in Colorado and New Mexico. In other words, McCain, in polling right now, is in the same position to win these three blue states as Obama is in to prevail in the latter two must-wins.

You could argue that the averages in MN, WI and WA are closer than they should be because of the lack of consistent polling, but I'd say the same thing applies for CO and NM, two states that have fallen off regular polling updates because they were assumed to be breaking for Obama. But are they? The last credible poll from NM showed a 49-44 race in Obama's favor. That's certainly not a lock. A couple of recent pollsters have put CO at a 5-6 point Obama advantage. That doesn't sound like a lock either.

I am sorta relying on the assumption that national polling will tighten as we approach zero hour, in favor of the GOP. If you look at Gallup's tracking poll history, you can see that, in nearly every race since 1974, the GOP candidate has gotten a healthy bump just before Election Day.

I guess this was a long-winded way of saying that it makes virtually no tactical sense to abandon McCain in the futile hopes of saving a Senate seat or two. The same volunteers inspired to work, contribute and vote McCain-Palin are the ones that will vote Chambliss, Coleman and others.

A better strategy for salvaging Senate seats would be for McCain to correct his campaign's course by focusing exclusively on the economy, and avoiding anything that might antagonize the Democratic base. Picking off whatever undecideds and soft Obama supporters that can be had is crucial to ensuring that GOP candidates like Coleman are on the right side of of a 50.01-49.99 race.

Nationalized elections are, by definition, ones where candidates on the district and local level have to respond to national issues, whether they affect their prospective constituents or not. If Jim Martin wins a razor-thin margin in GA, it won't be because he ran a spectacular campaign... it'll be because the bottom fell out of McCain's turnout operation there and the Obama tide overcame Chambliss. I don't think anyone has attributed Martin's rise in the polls to anything other than the financial crisis awakening people to the fact that maybe the Republicans don't have it right on the economy. If the GOP runs from McCain, he'll continue to sink in the polls and that will be disastrous for congressional candidates. You could say the same thing for Lunsford, in KY. Certainly, abandoning McCain is the surest way to destroy candidates in DNC-leaning states, like Oregon and Minnesota.

I'll note, as well, that this strategy was in play with very little evidence of success during the 1996 presidential election.

Haley Barbour, then Chairman of the RNC, pulled money from turnout operations and advertising for Dole and re-directed it to salvage whatever they could from the House and Senate. The GOP picked up some deep red open seats, but ended up losing a deep red seat. They also lost eight house seats, and did not win any race in which the result was decided two percentage points or less.

by UMassforObama 2008-10-13 09:29PM | 0 recs
Re:

"Instead, after the two conventions, the race was essentially tied and there were state polls in CO and NM which gave a lot of Democrats worry."

That was RIGHT AFTER the Republican convention. A bounce for the McCain/Palin ticket was expected, but so was the return to the normal alignment a week later.  Who in their right mind expected the Palin pick to sweep the Democrats out of the gate?

Some of you don't even realize that there is a lot of disenchantment with the GOP, that their brand is badly damaged, and that this presidential election is a judgement of the GOP, yay or nay, nothing else.  It does not matter WHO the players are, although McCain's erratic and at times inept campaign hasn't helped his cause.  However, he is swimming against a huge anti-GOP tide.  

You will see shortly.

by devilrays 2008-10-14 04:41AM | 0 recs
Schadenfreude

I'm not embarrassed to admit that on Nov 5th I'm going to exult in the GOP circular firing squad as they try and fix the blame for the complete collapse of the GOP on anything but their failed ideology.  Got my "Concern Tolls" accounts already created and I'm pretty much expecting a free fire zone on sites that would normally terminate with extreme prejudice any negative GOP posts. I have to remember not to gloat.  After 8 years, I figure I'm entitled to a couple of days of payback... then back to work to clean up this mess.

by j royale 2008-10-13 09:35PM | 0 recs
I dont blame RNC

McCain has been running one of the stupidest campaign I have seen in a long-2 time. Not only is he six points down, he is doing everything to ensure that he goes even further down.

by ann0nymous 2008-10-13 09:47PM | 0 recs
Signs of the Times

A bit off topic perhaps, but it seems it's getting to be time for some of the pre-historical summing up of a very bad period in our national history which may be coming to an abrupt and overdue end:


When Ronald Reagan was president, I had a sense of what ideas and principles his party stood for. When Newt Gingrich and his "Contract with America" brigade took Washington by storm in 1994, I knew what they believed -- loopy though it was -- and what they hoped to accomplish. I defy anyone to give a coherent explanation of what today's Republican Party, under George Bush and now John McCain, wants to do except perpetuate itself in power.

When a political party reaches the point of lurching incoherence, the most effective cure is a good, long spell in the wilderness. Americans should help Republicans out by sending them home to get their act together.

Eugene Robinson - "Socialist" Charges from Bailout Republicans Washington Post 14 Oct 08

I'll say, and for a good long time too.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-10-13 10:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Signs of the Times

Gene Robinson is mine...mineminemineminemine

Thanks for quoting him though, I do want to have, like, a million of his babies :D

by figgy 2008-10-14 04:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Signs of the Times

This is easy
gay rights -- bad
abortion rights -- bad
alternative fuels -- bad
Intellectuals -- bad
Drilling -- Good
war -- Good
Deficit spending -- Good

The GOP has turned into a warped psuedo-populist party that is based on nationalism and fundamentalist Christianity.  They have been able to run on deficits until now to keep the working class happy with cheap goods at Wal-Mart and attacks on gay people.  They have also used the war on terror to whip up nationalist sentiment.

This is nothing like the party that Barry Goldwater wanted or Buckley wanted.  There is no intellectualism left in American conservatism.  right now I think you are going to see the GOP fracture along these lines.  It has been an unhappy alliance for a while and I am not sure it can last this defeat.

by gavoter 2008-10-14 07:02AM | 0 recs
Re: RNC Considers Siphoning Funds

I was wondering if this would happen.

The GOP congressional candidates have to be going nuts watching McCain siphon off all that money while they're going down.

I assume they've been rebelling against the "RNC as McCain piggy bank" strategy for awhile.

by Bush Bites 2008-10-14 01:28AM | 0 recs
Re: RNC Considers Siphoning Funds

On the other hand, it looks like they may have money to do both.

Flush with cash, the Republican National Committee is beginning to open its wallet to broadcast new advertisements against Senator Barack Obama.

In a single day, the committee paid for a $5 million advertising purchase by OnMessage, a media firm in Alexandria, Va., that represents Republican candidates. It was the fourth independent expenditure -- a campaign finance technicality that allows the party to name Mr. Obama in the advertisements -- made by the committee in the presidential race.

http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/ 10/13/gop-opens-wallet-for-ads/

by Bush Bites 2008-10-14 01:41AM | 0 recs
Re: RNC Considers Siphoning Funds from McCain to S

Where the hell do you get a '$5 million line of credit' this week?

by Shaun Appleby 2008-10-14 04:21AM | 0 recs
Good question

Sadly there's no shortage of rich bastards that would love to cut a low interest loan to their buddies in the hopes of continuing to be left alone to pillage the henhouse.

by Dracomicron 2008-10-14 05:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Good question

Must be, though there seems nothing left in the henhouse but scatterings of feathers.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-10-14 06:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Wachovia is Corrupt

Wachovia was corrupt enough to give a loan to the RNCC to support its efforts to keep House seats just a week or so ago. At the time, Wachovia had been more or less seized by the FDIC, and was the object of tussle over its bankrupt body by Citibank and Wells Fargo. The Citibank deal was going to use federal, taxpayer money to take over Wachovia's bad debts as its healthy -- or less terminally diseased -- parts were absorbed into Citi. How corrupt is that? And I'm sure that Wachovia is not the only bank willing to do corrupt financing of the Repubs.

by Woody 2008-10-14 07:05AM | 0 recs
NOOO

NOOOOOOOO!! They must dump more money into the black hole that is the McCain campaign! It's their only hope?

The DSCC and DNC, on the other hand, need to dump off a truckload of cash in Georgia. Jim Martin is on the verge of having Obama's coattails give him that last nudge across the finish line.

by fwiffo3 2008-10-14 05:34AM | 0 recs
Re: NOOO

Saxby is running scared right now.  I don't know if there will be enough to push Martin over, but early voting has been huge here.  I would guess most is Obama support because of the enthusiasm factor.  There is absolutely no enthusiasm among the Republicans that I know.

I think that first time voters, and voters under 30 are going to turn out in record force.

by gavoter 2008-10-14 07:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Send a couple of trucks

Rick Noriega in Texas and Andrew Rice in Oklahoma are just a step or two behind Jim Martin in GA. A couple of trucks of money sent their way could make those races competitive, too.

by Woody 2008-10-14 07:07AM | 0 recs
Re: RNC Considers Siphoning Funds...

The irony is, by doing this, they would be enabling dozens of state level elections to place ads featuring their candidate and Obama as the wave of the future.

Silly GOP.

M

by techsoldaten 2008-10-14 05:47AM | 0 recs
Terrible news for us

We do not want Republicans spending money against us in these Senate races, possibly costing us a 60 seat majority.  If we dont get 60 seats in the Senate, having Obama in the White House will be pretty much useless.  

by Kent 2008-10-14 08:15AM | 0 recs

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