Democrats Outspent in 21 of 30 House Seats They Took From GOP

Bumped from the diaries -- Jonathan... It goes to show that while it's certainly important for Democratic candidates to get close to financial parity with their Republican opponents that it is not necessary for them to spend more than Republicans to win seats.

With Federal Election Commission numbers mostly complete, tallies of candidate and independent expenditures in the 30 seats captured by House Democrats reveal something unusual.  In 70% of those races (21 of 30), Republicans outspent Democrats.  In most, they enjoyed the benefits of incumbency as well (name recognition, office mailings, services to constituents).  To put this in perspective, in 2004 IIRC, winning candidates were outspent in a grand total of three House races.

For those wondering, the nine seats where Democrats outspent Republicans were NH 2 (Paul Hodes), NY 24 (Michael Arcuri, an open seat), IN 8 (Brad Ellsworth), IN 9 (Baron Hill, no data from Mike Sodrel the GOP incumbent, was posted yet), WI 8 (Steve Kagen, mostly self funded), AZ 8 (Gabrielle Giffords, partial data), CO 7 (Ed Perlmutter), KS 2 (Nancy Boyda thanks to help from the DCCC), and MN 1 (Tim Walz).  

Nancy Johnson was ridiculed here for running a particularly lame ad.  The Connecticut Republican must have run a lot of lame ads as she and her "independent" allies spent $7,319,688 in a losing campaign.  That was a high for this cycle in a losing House campaign and was about $2 million more than Chris Murphy spent in defeating her.

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Where do I find DCCC Totals?

Is there a convenient list somewhere on the web of total independent expenditures on each race by the DCCC?  I'm trying to compile an improved version of my list of narrowly defeated candidates who ought to run again, and who the netroots should support and lobby the new DCCC chair (when one is chosen) to support.  One of the criteria I want to include is whether they had major DCCC support -- Tammy Duckworth, for example, probably shouldn't run again, considering the amount poured into her unsuccessful campaign.  I looked at opensecrets.org, but they don't have DCCC expenditures broken down by race, only by states and major metropolitan areas.

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James Carville's Consultant Con

There are two main reasons why James Carville does not like Howard Dean. The first is that Howard Dean does not trash other Democrats, and Carville prefers Democrats who throw their own party under the bus. The second is that he is a political consultant, and as such many of his friends have gotten rich off of commissions from television advertisements. As far as he is concerned, all donations to all Democratic committees exist so that he and his friends can get richer. Since Howard Dean is spending money on field organizers and grants to state parties, his friends tend to not get rich from the money the DNC raised. This is abhorrent to Carville, since Democratic Party committees exist to make him and his friends rich.

However, there is a serious problem with many of the television advertisements that Democrats run. That is why on MyDD we set up Adwatch in order to monitor if the money we raised for campaigns was being spent effectively. Looking at the final results from the fifteen House races where the DCCC spent its money, one has to wonder if we did spend our money as effectively as we could have:
  • 1. PA-06: Lost
  • 2. NM-01: Losing
  • 3. CT-05: win, but credited the netroots
  • 4. OH-15: Losing
  • 5. IL-06: Lost
  • 6. IN-08: Win
  • 7. CA-50: Lost
  • 8. PA-07: Win, but raised $1M online
  • 9. AZ-05: Win
  • 10. KY-04: Lost
  • 11. WA-08: Lost
  • 12. PA-08: Win, but credited the netroots
  • 13. OH-18: Win, but defeated DCCC candidate in primary
  • 14. FL-22: Win
  • 15. CT-04: Loss
The numbers I used for this ranking come from when there was still one week to go in the election, but they still tell a disturbing tale (see source information here). Why did the DCCC lose, or is in the process of losing, eight of its top fifteen targets? Why have only six of the fifteen candidates the DCCC originally backed in these races win? Over 85% of the DCCC's independent expenditures in these races came in the form of television ads. Will the consultants in charge of thee ads be held accountable for their sub-500 record? Will other consulting firms be tested out in the future in order to see if they can produce better results? Keep in mind that I am not criticizing the DCCC for choosing these districts, because this is not a bad top fifteen-target list at all. Also, in the seats we did win, it was usually by a very narrow margin, and so this amount of money may have been necessary. However, we should have done better in this list than we did, and I do not think it takes much to argue that the main reason for our failure rests with ineffective television advertising.

Yet still, after producing a sub-.500 record int eh top fifteen House targets, Carville has the gall to tell the press that he and his other consultant buddies deserved even more money so that they could have run even more ineffective advertisements. I write this not as someone looking to attack the DCCC, but instead as someone looking to get my money's worth. The Use It Or Lose It campaign helped direct more than $2.3M into DCCC coffers for the final election push. The MyDD / Dailykos / Swing state Project Act Blue page directed more than $1.5M into Democratic coffers since February. I want to make sure that the money I donated, my community donated, and that we all helped transfer to the DCCC was spent wisely. Looking at our performance in the top fifteen targets, I have some serious doubts that it was.

Carville can try and continue his consulting con that more money to the DCCC would have automatically translated into more victories for Democrats in the House, but looking at our performance in the top fifteen targets, I have to say that is hardly a guarantee. What is a guarantee is that it would have made his rich consulting buddies a lot more money. We practically swept every close race in the Senate, so I have no beef with their consultants. However, when it comes to the House, I want answers. Did we use the right consultants? What other options to we have? What commissions are they taking from these ads? How can we work to reduce the size of those commissions if they are being done on a percentage basis? To what extent are other forms of independent expenditures besides advertising on broadcast advertising more or less effective? How much money does James Carville personally stand to gain from the extra money he wanted channeled to close House races?

These are questions that many people, including the media and the DCCC, need to start asking James Carville. We need answers to these questions. Just because we won does not mean we can't do better in the future. Figuring out what happened to DCCC advertising in our most heavily targeted races is a big area where we can start improving.

Independent Expenditure Totals For All Party Committees In 2006

Here is a treat for all you political junkies out there: the complete independent totals for 2006 in every congressional race, both House and Senate, for all party committees combined: DNC, RNC, NRCC, DCCC, DSCC and NRSC. Check it out:

Independent Expenditure Totals For All Party Committees In 2006

Kombiz sent this to me last night, and deserves a ton of credit for this. The bigger MyDD becomes, and the more projects we engage in, the more we continue to need help from members of the MyDD community. This blog is becoming more and more of a group effort all the time.

Here are some items of note from the totals:
  • In the House, about 93% of all money was spent on Republican held seats. In the Senate, about 83% of all money was spent on Republican held seats. These totals might only increase during the final weekend.
  • Republicans actually spent a slightly higher percentage of their funds on defense, 90.3%, than Democrats spent on the attack, 88.4%. This is because the DSCC spent nearly 20% of their funds on defense.
  • The Missouri Senate race has had the most independent expenditures in the entire nation, with $19.6M. The Ohio Senate race comes in second at $15.3M. Tennessee is a distant third at $10.5M. Missouri really is where the Senate will be decided. Also, while Republican committees really were running a firewall strategy in those three states, Democratic committees actually matched them dollar for dollar in those competitions.
  • The CA-50 is still the race with the most expenditures in the entire nation, at $7.1M. The top ten are PA-06 ($6.2M), NM-01 ($5.6M), PA-07 ($5.2M), FL-22 ($5.2M), OH-18 ($5.0M), PA-08 ($4.8M), CT-05 ($4.8M), IL-06 ($4.6M), and IN-09 ($4.5M). Those ten races actually account for around 37% of all spending on House races.
  • The House races where Republicans have most outspent Democrats are: CA-50 ($2.8M), IL-08 ($2.2M), FL-22 ($1.8M), TX-22 ($1.5M), CO-04 ($1.5M), OH-18 ($1.5M), FL-16 ($1.3M), CT-02 ($1.2M), IN-09 ($1.2M), PA-08 ($1.1M), KY-03 ($1.1M), NC-11 ($1.1M), and PA-07 ($1.0M)
  • The House races where Democrats have most outspent Republicans are: CO-07 ($987K), IN-02 ($842K), OH-15 ($697K), NV-03 ($593K), and GA-12 ($432K).
Fascinating stuff. I hope you enjoy it.

IA-01: Is the NRCC pulling out?

From this morning's Des Moines Register:

"A national Republican committee's spending against Democrat Bruce Braley in Iowa's 1st Congressional District plummeted last week, a review of Federal Election Commission reports shows.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, which had spent an average of $366,192 per week in opposition to Braley since mid-September, spent only $59,524 from Oct. 16 to 23. In addition, the NRCC spent no money on television advertising opposing Braley last week, even though the Nov. 7 general election campaign is entering its final phase."

[...]A review of FEC reports reflecting independent spending by the NRCC and the DCCC against their party's opponents in the two Iowa congressional races also disclosed:

- NRCC spending against Braley last week not only declined 84 percent compared with the average spending over the previous four weeks, but also took place when the Republican committee spent its largest sum of the campaign - $190,489 - on television advertising in opposition to Boswell in Iowa's 3rd District.

[...]- DCCC spending in opposition to Whalen's candidacy has averaged $84,500 over the last six weeks and now totals $595,694 during the period. By comparison, the GOP congressional campaign committee has reported spending a total of $1.5 million against Braley since mid-September."

Now, we know the NRCC is still thinking the IA-03 is competitive, and it likely is more so than the IA-01.  Could this be prioritizing of one race over the other?  The NRCC spokesperson wouldn't comment, which usually isn't a good sign.  If they weren't changing strategy, they'd quickly respond saying they're doing the same thing they've been doing for the past few weeks.  This isn't a good sign for the Whalen Campaign at all.

Looking over the most recent independent expenditure reports (the last 500 can be found here), it looks like the only recent NRCC purchase in the race was on Oct. 23rd -- yesterday -- for phone banks at an investment of $1,535.  That's a pretty meager investment.  I'll try to keep track of the expenditures this week, but things don't look good for Whalen.

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