Republicans In Retreat

First the McCain campaign pulled out of Michigan, then the RNC pulled out of Wisconsin. Now the NRCC and the NRSC are following suit.

Yesterday The Politico reported that the NRCC has made the decision to hang some of its House recruits out to dry and focus instead on securing seats they currently hold. Take California where conventional wisdom has been that the only flippable race this cycle is CA-04 where Charlie Brown is polling ahead of Tom McClintock to replace John Doolittle. But when the NRCC looks at California, they see a lot more potential devastation than that.

In California, Republican operatives have noticed some troubling trends.

Two years ago, Lungren - who is completing his seventh term in Congress - beat physician and Vietnam War veteran Bill Durston by 21 points. But the economy has taken its toll, and Lungren's district has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. In a newly released Democratic poll, Lungren leads Durston by just 3 percentage points.

Former GOP consultant Allan Hoffenblum said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and other California Republicans, including Reps. David Dreier and Brian Bilbray, are also at risk.

"The Republican base is not sufficient by itself to elect a Republican in those [California] districts; they still need the independent vote," Hoffenblum said. "In the past decade, they have been reliably voting Republican for president and for Congress. ... There are a lot of angry and scared voters out there. This is not your traditional environment."

This fear is well-placed because each of these incumbents has a credible challenger this year in Durston, Debbie Cook in CA-46, Russ Warner in CA-26 and Nick Leibham in CA-50 (Calitics has more on the state of these race.) But one very notable thing that unites these races, something that makes it rather shocking that the NRCC is even choosing to divert resources to them, is that by all accounts the DCCC has not invested in any meaningful way in any of them. One wonders if that is about to change.

Today we learn that the NRSC is getting in on the retreat act by pulling out of the Louisiana senate race. The AP aptly captures the mood of the Republican committees:

Retreating as they brace for congressional losses, Republicans have canceled television advertising in a key Senate race in Louisiana and scaled back ads in eight competitive House contests.

The moves signal a scramble by Republicans, three weeks before nationwide elections, to hold off a Democratic surge. [...]

In pulling planned advertising in Louisiana, Senate Republicans' campaign committee has essentially abandoned its only chance this year to topple a Democratic incumbent, Sen. Mary Landrieu, who is in a competitive race with John Kennedy, the state treasurer who was heavily recruited to challenge her.

Democrats on the other hand:

Majority Democrats, by contrast, are investing in an expanding list of GOP targets -- many in Republican strongholds -- even as they move to protect their own marginal members. [...]

Senate Democrats' political arm is now targeting Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, and Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss with new ads.

And on the House level:

House Democrats' political committee is targeting Republicans once believed to be safe in ironclad GOP districts, including Reps. John Shadegg of Arizona, Mark Souder of Indiana, Ron Lewis of Kentucky and Lee Terry of Nebraska.

Those were among the 45 districts where the Democratic committee poured close to $8.3 million for "voter communications" -- mostly ads -- this week, according to reports filed Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission. That list includes 34 seats held by Republicans, 20 of them incumbents.

Whereas the Republicans:

Republicans were advertising in nine districts this week, all but two of them currently in GOP hands. The party committee reported spending about $750,000 on voter communications this week.

This has been your schadenfreude break for the day. Now get back to work!

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Democratic Cong. Campaign C'tees Hit $100 Mil. On-Hand

With the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee now fully part of the two parties' presumptive nominees' campaign efforts and likely to spend the great bulk of their cash on the race for the White House, I'm splitting off the two national committees from my monthly tally of the finance filings of the parties' congressional committees to write about them instead in tandem with posts on the fundraising of John McCain and Barack Obama. So on their own, here are the latest numbers on the parties' congressional campaign committees:

CommitteeJune ReceiptsJune DisbursementsJune Cash-on-HandJune Debts & Obligations
DSCC (est.) $10,800,000.00$3,000,000.00$46,300,000.00$0
NRSC (est.)$6,000,000.00$3,000,000.00$24,600,000.00$0

Right now the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has close to a 2-to-1 cash-on-hand advantage over the National Republican Senatorial Committee, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's edge over the National Republican Congressional Committee on the House side is roughly 6.5-to-1. Overall, the two Democratic committees have a 3-to-1 lead in cash in the bank, as well as an astonishing $100 million available.

These numbers again underscore the fact that although the punditry can try to make it seem that the race for control of Congress, or even Democratic efforts to significantly increase their majorities in both Houses, are closer than they actually are, the money race makes it exceedingly difficult for the Republicans to do much to defend themselves this year. Coupled with the generic congressional ballot polling showing the Democrats maintaining a wide advantage within the electorate, these fundraising numbers show again that the Democrats maintain a real opportunity to bring sweeping change this fall -- a situation that can only occur, however, if the party remains diligent and energized through election day.

GOP Committees Nearly Catch Up to Dem Committees in May

After nearly a year and a half into the 2008 cycle, which has seen the Democratic campaign committees generally hold a 50 percent or even 100 percent cash-on-hand advantage over their Republican counterparts, the GOP committees have finally begun to catch up (or at least the Republican National Committee has). Take a look at the latest numbers filed with the Federal Election Commission Friday:

CommitteeMay ReceiptsMay DisbursementsMay Cash-on-HandMay Debts & Obligations
DSCC (est.) $5,920,000.00$4,950,000.00$38,530,000.00$0
NRSC (est.)$4,890,000.00$2,700,000.00$21,560,000.00$0

The congressional campaign committees for the Democrats continue to hold about a 3-to-1 cash-on-hand advantage over those of the Republicans, strongly suggesting that those who believe that the two parties' efforts to control the 111th Congress will be financially on par are just not right. The Democrats' 7-to-1 advantage among House campaign committees is particularly remarkable.

Obviously the numbers from the Republican and Democratic national committees leave room for concern. The RNC is raising a huge amount of money -- no doubt in part because John McCain is soliciting contributions in amounts approaching $100,000 in value, a huge chunk of which goes to the national committee -- and the DNC isn't matching it. Yet. If you want to help eat away at that difference, head over to Act Blue today and make a contribution.

GOP Ctees Outraise, Outspend Dem Ctees; Still Trail Badly in CoH

All of the parties' political committees were required to release their monthly campaign finance details yesterday. Here is what the reports show:

CommitteeApril ReceiptsApril DisbursementsApril Cash-on-HandApril Debts & Obligations
DSCC (est.) $4,200,000.00$4,500,000.00$37,600,000.00$0
NRSC (est.)$4,300,000.00$2,300,000.00$19,400,000$0
$28,397,883.0817,263,558$66,777,822.34 $0

As you can see, this was a big fundraising month for the GOP, cutting the Democratic committees' cash-on-hand lead by about a third. This underscores the need to ensure that money continues to go into the committees -- particularly the Democratic National Committee, though presumably the DNC's fundraising issues should virtually fall away when the nominee takes over the committee -- so that the Democrats' fundraising advantage is not frittered away.

That said, let's not overlook the fact that despite the remarkable month the Republican National Committee had in April, the Democratic committees nonetheless hold a $20 million overall advantage in available money. What's more, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has close to a 7-to-1 net cash-on-hand advantage over the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee still has close to a 2-to-1 advantage in that metric over the National Republican Senatorial Committee. On top of that, Barack Obama raised in excess of 70 percent more in April than did John McCain, and Obama and Hillary Clinton combined to raise about three times as much money as McCain. So overall the financial health of the Democratic Party remains very sound.

Condescending to Voters, Playing to Perceived Racial Fears Does Not Work

Down in Mississippi, the Republicans ran a campaign where they targeted Democrat Travis Childers as being a pawn of Barack Obama under the theory that if they could mention Jeremiah Wright often enough they could scare voters into keeping the state's first congressional district in Republican hands. This wasn't their first attempt at such a move. Next door in Louisiana the Republicans tried to make another special election earlier this month into a referendum on Obama right at the time Wright was saturating the news -- only to lose a seat that had been in Republican hands for more than three decades.

Not only did Republicans lose last night in Mississippi, they lost bad. In a district that George W. Bush carried by 25 percentage points in 2004, Childers won by 8 points -- a swing of 33 points. That's right, 33 points. A great part of this is that voters are beginning to approach congressional elections more like they were parliamentary ones, backing the party instead of thinking just about the candidates themselves. Indeed, the results looked a lot more like the generic congressional ballot in which the Democrats hold a lead approaching 20 points than they do a contest simply between two well-matched candidates.

But it goes beyond voters saying yes to the Democratic Party in corners of the country where the Democrats didn't even seriously try to run in as recently as even a few years ago. This is at least in part a reaction to the deliberate attempt by the Republicans to obfuscate the real issues facing this country and attempt to make this election about the Reverend Wright and all that entails.

This tactic does not work. It did not work in rural Louisiana. It did not work in rural Mississippi. And it will not work elsewhere. Voters, whether suburban, urban or rural, do not want to be condescended to by elites in Washington, DC who think that they can be swayed by ethnic and racial and just pure dirty politics. Just because an election is held in a conservative part of the South does not mean that voters think about race like Jim Clark did in 1965 or Orval Faubus did in 1957 or Strom Thurmond did in 1948. Voters do not like being treated like they are racists by anyone, particularly by a party to whom they have given their support in recent elections.

And yet the leadership of the Republican Party appears determined to continue this strategy, pledging to continue to run ads making the election about Obama, talking about immigration as a "tar baby" for Obama and others, and generally acting in a way that would make Abraham Lincoln roll in his grave. Perhaps when Tom Davis said today that his party was "below the floor" he should have said that the Republican Party is in the much, in the gutter, in a place where the American people simply do not want to go. If this trend keeps up, Republicans will be lucky to only lose 20 seats in the House come November.

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