Princes of Darkness: The Role of National Parties in Negative Advertising
by David Kowalski, Sun Oct 29, 2006 at 08:15:03 AM EST
The FEC, as mentioned earlier on this site by Chris Bowers, keeps track of Positive and Negative advertising campaigns run by "independent sources." Independent mean, of course, not directly connected to the candidate in an offical manner. Out of about 1,000 campaign entries representing the national political parties and interest groups, exactly 65 totalled over $1 million. Fully 64 of the 65 represented the national parties. The ads are overwhelmingly classified as negative. More details follow below as well as a comparison of the roles of the Democratic and Republican campaign committees.
Overall, the two national political parties funded 64 campaigns and provided a total of $126 million for these high profile campaigns. Democrats were outfunded, $65,954,919 to $60,241,783. National Democrats invested in 30 campaigns; national Republicans invested in 31 campaigns although three campaigns benefited from multiple one millio plus expenditures by both the National Republican Committee and by the Republican Senatorial Cpmmittee. The RNC provided nearly $8 million which is enough to provide a small Republican edge.
Expenditures over the two days since the closingt date for these statistics gave a definite edge to Democrats. At the least, the number of funded campaigns is even at 31 and Democratic funding for these races has closed the funding gap from nearly $6 million to something closer to $3 million.
The heroes of these statistics are not the publicity hugging Rahm Emanuel or the more quiet Ken Mehlman. Certainly some Democratic funding has gone to other House races but that is also true of the Republicans. The late commitment of nearly $340,000 to nancy Boyda on Saturday night was a major departure from Rahmbo's tendency to concentrate funding in a small number of "key" races. As of October 26, Tom Reynolds had outspent Rahm by around $19 million. ironically, the scandal plagued reynolds has done by far the best job of any GOP operative. Rahm's constant carping about the failings of Howard dean to bail him out really strongly reflect that deficit of $49 million to $30 million.
The Democratic hero of the moment is Chuck Schumer. Schumer has endangered a number of races often by encouraging on-going feuds like the one between Eliott Spitzer and Tom Suozzi in New York. He should have been all over Lieberman threatening donors, flacking for Lamont, and generally bringing troops in from across the border to make phone calls or drop off literature. Let's talk about what Schumer did right, and it was a lot.
Schumer not only murderated Liddy Dole in the fund raising game, he managed to clobber the combo of the despised Dole and the over-rated Ken Mehlman by more than a 3:2 margin for these races. OK, gang, that $$30,657,000 for Chucky to a pathetic $9,017,000 for the woman in the red dress (Liddy Dole) and $7,922,000 of desperate help from the RNC.
Note well, incidentally, that RNC money went into Senate races and not into House races. Over $3 million went into Ohio for the RNC and it pretty much went down the drain. Another $3 million has gone into Missouri and the balance has been sent to Tennesee to attack Harold Ford.
Every dime of Republican money for these big races has gone to attack ads. All $66 million. Schumer, and Schumer alone, had the cajones to spend money rehabilitating his candidates from the slime machine. Yes, Sherrod Brown, Harold Ford, and Claire mCCaskill have each gotten millions for positive ads. That $5 million total has elevated them from the field and has worked like a charm in Ohio. If McCaskill manages to sneak through, this is what saved her. I'm not so optimistic about Harold Ford.
Schumer took that money and he widened the field. Democrats launched 11 campaigns (three positive, eight negative) compared to four for the RSC. The campaigns covered eight states and aimed right at the gut of the so-called firewall. Jim Talent was blasted by an incredible $8 million bucks of negative campaigning while Claire was propped up with $3 million in positive ads. Mike DeWine was redefined by $6 million in negative ads that never allowed him to crawl away from the stench that is the Republican party in Ohio.
The one campaign above all that warmed my heart was $1,332,393 sent to rough up Conrad Burns. Burns has a somewhat pleasant manner if you pay absolutely no attention to what he says. Listen to him and he is a bully with no touch of reality and a desire to please the few big landowners in Montana at the expense of the 99% of ordinary fols who live there.
Another winner, an I think he's a big one, is Howard Dean. Ken Mehlman has shown that throwing around a little money to make a splash has a real tendency of becoming waste. Building up the Democratic Party in all fifty states is not only a smarter investment than throwing good money after bad, it will probably help at least as much even in the immediate term.
The numbers confirm that providing the DCCC with a swift infusion of cash will broaden the playing field a little but most of it will go to negative ads in the same old over-funded spots. If people are sick of these ads, give money directly to the candidates and certainly not to the DCCC. I have more have in the DSC.
All of this text is supported by an excel spread sheet available upon request (and alo, maybe, if somebody wants two pages of numbers and more numbers, it can be inserted).