I’ve noticed a sharp uptick in cynicism in the blogosphere. It is usually expressed in two ways. Readers make comments expressing the sentiment that there is no difference between the parties and they make predictions that the Democrats will lose an historic opportunity to pick up seats and win the White House. I’m not sure about the White House, but I can almost assure you that the Democrats are not going to blow the opportunity to pick up seats in Congress. The reason is fairly simple, although it takes a little effort to explain. It comes down to money and recruitment. To demonstrate this I am going to keep the focus on the House of Representatives. Let’s take a look back to the midterms.
In 2006…the DCCC spent $70 million on a TV and radio advertising campaign that hit only 47 districts total, only seven of which were held by Democrats.
The DCCC targeted 40 Republican seats in 2006 and they wound up winning 30, not all of which were on their target list. Their average contribution was $1.489 million.
Obviously, the Republican counterpart, the NRCC, spent a lot of money on races, as well. But the NRCC now has more debt than cash on hand.
Financially, the National Republican Congressional Committee is essentially bankrupt, with just $1.6 million in cash available at the end of the 3rd quarter and almost $4 million in leftover debt from the 2006 cycle. Meanwhile, Van Hollen’s DCCC is awash in cash, with more than $28 million available to spend as of Sept. 30.
The DCCC is looking to fund contests against forty Republican incumbents again in 2008.
With a huge cash advantage over the National Republican Congressional Committee, Van Hollen and Emanuel are cautioning their colleagues that the DCCC wants to have money to put into 40 challenger races next year…
The NRCC and the DCCC will obviously continue to raise money between now and the elections. But we can take the current situation as illustrative of the problem the Republicans face. After debts the DCCC has $25 million to spend on congressional races, and the Republicans have -$2.3 million. And the Democrats, realizing that the Republicans have NO MONEY to pour into ANY races, have made an announcement to vulnerable incumbents.
Top House Democrats, sensing an opportunity to pick up additional seats in 2008, are warning some of their more vulnerable incumbents that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee won’t spend money in their districts unless Republican leaders do.
Basically, the DCCC is saying that incumbents need to raise their own money because they intend to use their whole warchest on the offense, contesting 40 Republican seats. At the moment, the DCCC has enough money to give $1.6 million each to 40 separate challengers. The NRCC can’t give a dime to anyone in response without borrowing money.
And the Democratic incumbents are already awash in cash.
Only two of the Frontline Democrats — Reps. Michael Arcuri of New York and Brad Ellsworth of Indiana — reported having less than $500,000 on hand at the end of September, according to their most recent reports with the Federal Election Commission.
It should be obvious that the Republicans cannot hope to pick up many seats when they have no money. Traditionally, the GOP wins by vastly outspending their opponents. But recruitment is a second problem.
The DCCC has also done far better than its GOP counterpart in recruiting top-tier candidates to challenge incumbents, according to most independent political experts…
…The NRCC, on the other hand, has recruited top-flight challengers in about a third of the roughly 60 Democratic-held districts they are targeting.
An honest look at this political landscape should lead you to the conclusion that the House elections of 2008 are already over, and the Democrats have picked up many more seats in Congress.
There are other indicators: early polling, generic ballot preferences, issue preferences, differential party registration, this week’s elections…that bolster the case.
The Republicans must know what is coming. But they seem unwilling to do the only thing that could have much prospect of changing the results: tossing out their leaders.