GOP groups far out-spending Democratic orgs.: ‘This is turning into a financial blowout’




First Read notes the huge spending discrepancy between outside groups on the GOP side, which are spending huge amounts on the 2010 campaigns and Democratic allied groups, which aren’t:

But in what could very well be the cycle’s biggest story, GOP-leaning outside groups — like the Rove-backed American Crossroads and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — are more than making up the gap. According to Democratic ad-tracking numbers, outside GOP groups spent a whopping $34 million in August and September, compared with just $4 million by Dem groups. And that’s just in Senate races. In House races, GOP groups have spent or plan to spend some $30 million in more than 70 districts, versus $7.5 million by Dem groups.

And, there’s more Rove money coming. First Read analyzes why the spending discrepancy exists. It’s odd, especially when we’ve got a Democratic President:

*** Why did Dem groups disarm? This is turning into a financial blowout. Amazingly, Democratic outside groups are acting as if they’ve disarmed. Why? Some reasons we’ve heard from Democrats who are trying to compete on this front: 1) the economy is bad; 2) the Dem donor base is demoralized and tired; 3) some of the bigger donors are liberals, and they’ve been disappointed with the administration’s policies; 4) the president isn’t really courting the big donors; 5) Obama’s attacks on the Citizens United decision have deterred them from getting involved; 6) Obama doesn’t have a long-time donor network, a la the Clintons (think Terry McAuliffe); and 7) many of the Democrats’ best fundraisers are ambassadors right now. And here’s another reason: Dems got a tad complacent after Obama’s enormous money haul in 2008. The assumption was that money wouldn’t be an object, so Dem-leaning outside groups never really tried, and they believed — deep down — that the GOP outside groups couldn’t raise the big bucks. Well guess what…

All of those are contributing factors, especially item #3. But, there is one other reason and it rests squarely with the Obama brain trust. Mike Lux explained why the Democratic groups disarmed:

Independent group messages have far more credibility and clout than those from party and candidate committees — even groups with generic-sounding names no one has heard of. Republican strategists like Rove got this early, and went about methodically organizing a network of corporate money to get involved in independent expenditure ads in swing races all over the country. But the Obama White House, sure of its fundraising ability and organizing genius, has consistently sent the signal to Democratic donors to not support outside efforts. [emphasis added] They did it after they won the primary in 2008; they did it when they set up OFA to operate solely inside the DNC in 2009; they did it during the health care fight when they felt HCAN was being a little too independent in pushing for a public option, sending a clear signal to donors not to give to them at crucial times during the fight; they did it when ACORN had some bad publicity, very quickly making the decision to distance themselves and let them die even though no group has registered more voters or turned out more people in the last 10 years than ACORN.

I have been fighting this battle inside Democratic strategy circles for 15 years now, but the problem is worse with the current team at the White House. The folks running the Obama political operation have always believed they could control the message and the resources of the party better than anyone else, and that they didn’t need or want to empower outside progressive groups. Now embattled House and Senate candidates are paying the price, and it is a bitter price to have to pay.

It really sucks that so many solid progressives are bearing the brunt. Our leaders have been out-maneuvered by Karl Rove — again.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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