Wednesday, October 18, 2006

It's All About The Money

There's been a couple of articles that came out recently talking about the money game in the last few weeks of the election. From a horse race standpoint, the NRCC and DCCC have been raising money and picking and choosing where to spend it. For the Republicans its been about what seats they most need to defend. For the Democrats its about what challengers to fund in the final push. Connecticut is on their radar these days. The NRCC has dumped 638,000 into the race as of Oct. 1, according to CQ’s PoliticalMoneyLine.com. Stan Greenburg posted at TPMCafe.com,
The big donors from 2004 haven’t stepped up; the DNC is hardly a player; activist on-line groups are doing impressive things but operating in fewer states and districts. The two party committees have raised historic amounts of money and now have to make choices about how much debt and how broad a playing field.

The key is for all involved to look at this as an historic election and make choices now that reflect the moment. (Source: tpmcafe.com)
What Greenburg is alluding to is fundraising that should be coming from candidates in non competitive races to the aid of candidates in hotly competitive races. Although Democrats in Connecticut would be loathe to admit it, the Lamont challenge to Lieberman drained a steady source of cash that would have naturally flowed into the congressional races. It's the zero sum game that liberal activists like to deride, but in looking at the money in congressional races nationally you can see the CT Democratic challengers lagging. Lamont has had to funnel his own cash into his campaign, so its not likely that he's been sending money to his fellow Democratic candidates, let alone the CT Democratic Party or DNC. The DNC has taken out a $10 million dollar loan to help out the DSCC
The money is not designated for specific Senate races, however, sources tell us that two races in particular were used as leverage in negotiations between the DSCC and the DNC. Those two races: New Jersey and Virginia. Apparently the extra DNC money will help soften the financial blow the DSCC was taking by incurring the extra cost of saving Sen. Bob Menendez from the challenge of Republican Tom Kean Jr. as well also trying to target Virginia. New Jersey and Virginia sport three of the most expensive media markets in the country (NYC, Philly and DC). In addition, TN was also a factor in the DNC-DSCC discussions as the investment the DSCC is making is possibly more than they expected. (Source: Hotline)
Contrast the DNC's financial predicament with the CT Senate race
An explosion of campaign cash - dramatized by $6.1 million in new contributions since July 20 to incumbent Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman - could push the cost of this year's white-hot U.S. Senate race above $25 million, and already has obliterated the old record of $9.3 million in combined spending by candidates in a Connecticut political contest. (Source: Courant)
Despite Howard Dean's push to make all 50 states competitive against Republicans, CT Democrats have chosen an intraparty scuffle over winning a majority. it will be interesting to see how the factions reconcile post election.



CQPolitics.com Shays’ Uncharacteristic Comments Raise Questions in Conn. 4 10/17/06.

Hotline DNC Takes Out Loan For DSCC 10/17/06

Courant Senate Race Shatters Spending Record by JON LENDER, 10/14/06

21 comments:

Gabe said...

Hey - You aren't still anti-Lamont, are you?

Anonymous said...

Turfgirl--

Why are you re-hashing this stupid argument now? First, political donations aren't a zero-sum game. Second, you are a registered Republican so why do you pretend to give a flying duck about Democrats?

If anything, the spirit of the Lamont contest inspired the Dem base, both to fight harder, and to give more.

And what kind of a jerk are you to immediately post above the hot debate thread? Is that a purposeful strategy on your part? It certainly seems to be a pattern of yours.

Bobby McGee said...

Joe Lieberman seems to want to blackmail everybody these days: republican voters who want schlesinger, democrats who want to see congress in their control...

turfgrrl said...

anonymous 6:29-- I'll ignore your tantrumesque tone, and simply retort that the numbers show that a) the CT Congressional challengers are lagging and b) when I pointed out that dems are loathe to admit the impact and that liberals deride the argument, you stepped up and proved my point.

Gabe said...

Ah ha, the rare and amazing self-proving tautology!

Vary rare in the wild, the SPT is known by its inability to be refuted - if you ignore it, its correct because no one said it wasn't, but if you refute it, its correct because it predicted that you would refute it!

Gabe said...

From an email that I just received from the Joe Courtney campaign (and clearly the ever-present gods of irony):

Since I officially began this campaign, we've shattered fundraising records for six consecutive quarters and have been able to get our message of change to the voters like never before.

We raised over $518,000 during the latest 3 month filing period with over 80% of the money coming from individuals!
[emphasis in original]

Clearly Rob didn't get the message that his fundraising was lagging...

Nor did Chris Murphy when Lamont hit his supporters with a fundraising appeal for Murphy.

And for those of us who indeed care about Democratic Congressional fundraising, the UCONN Law School Dems are throwing a little shindig for Murphy on Friday night at 6:00 at the Half Door in Hartford - Turfgrrl, will I see you there?

MikeCT said...

Also Murphy raised more money in the last quarter than any Democrat has ever raised in that district. Curse that Lamont!

turf will have to find someone else to complain about ... NOT!

Gabe said...

I have three major problems with this post and they are as follows:

the Lamont challenge to Lieberman drained a steady source of cash that would have naturally flowed into the congressional races. It's the zero sum game that liberal activists like to deride,

There is absolutely no evidence for this contention. Go check out JStor if you access, its impossible to link to a scholarly article suggesting that congressional fundraising is zero sum, because such an article does not exist.

So I do agree with point that liberals will deride the argument. We do so for the same reason we deride the argument that the Cobra Commander has a secret base on the dark side of the moon - there simply isn't any evidence to support the assertation.

but in looking at the money in congressional races nationally you can see the CT Democratic challengers lagging.

This claim is not factually accurate.

First of all, the linked file is only a selection of congressional races, not a review of fundraising in all congressional races. I think we can sefely assume, based on the number of races that will be familiar to political junkies, that the highlighted races are the most contentious and thus the best funded.

Even given the fact that less funded challengers are not included in the data set, which would tend to make anyone in the data set look worse off then they actually were, the numbers provided still don't show what the post claims they show, namely that the fundraising is lagging for the three CT challengers.

There are 49 races highlighted where a Democratic challenger is going up against a Republican incumbent, as the three CT challengers are. Of those 49 races, Diane Farrell is in a virtual tie for fourth; Chris Murphy is in seventh; and Joe Courtney is in 8th (keep in mind that leading the field is Francine Busby who had to run two campaigns - it is not at all clear whether the donations for both campaigns are included in the total).

They are "lagging" ahead of the vast majority of Democratic challengers - even when the numbers are selected so the least funded challengers don't show up!

Finally, so its not likely that he's been sending money to [Lamont's] fellow Democratic candidates

Again, not accurate. First, Lamont sent a fundraising appeal to his list of donors on behalf of Chris Murphy.

Second, candidates face the same donating restrictions that everyone else does - its not like he can turn around give Chris Murphy a million dollars. What he can do however, is turnout Democrats in the 5th CD. Which his campaign will be doing - as they will in the other districts.

Meanwhile, the campaign of erstwhile Democrat Joe Lieberman has based their electoral strategy on getting 80% of the Republican vote. So who exactly will the Lieberman campaign be turning out in the 5th?

And who exactly is the villian when it comes to the Democratic congressional challengers?

turfgrrl said...

gabe-- you bring up several valid arguments against my assessment. You can say there's no scholarly reasearch in the zero sum game argument, but it is also just as true that scholarly research isn't exactly abundant on the art and science of fundraising. Put politics aside, and think back to what happened when the Tsunami hit in Dec of '05. Fundraising for victims of that natural disaster hit all time highs, but for every other humanitarian program, fund raising dropped. Money, after all, is not an endless resource.

Second, you claim that fund raising is going great for CT congressional candidates. Except looking historically is not quite addressing what is happening on the ground. This is a historic setting year for Democratic fund raising. Other races are keeping pace with Republicans, CTs are not. Not that I'm suggesting that it's the campaigns that are at fault as much as I am saying that the national fund sources are not kicking in. I'm sure you recall that prior to the primary CT had the hot races to watch, so what happened to the focus/money?

Lastly sending a fundraising appeal is not quite the same as sending money. I'm sure you realize that Senator Lieberman has been a huge contributor, historically, to fellow candidates and the party. He's still raising the money, but its not going into the party for obvious reasons. Where is Lamont's fundraising going? First he keeps having to kick on his own money, and second its going to his own race.

In substance you are wrong about what candidates can do. That is why candidates have PACs and that is how money gets directed.

You are right that Lieberman will attract republican voters in the 5th. It's a conservative leaning district, otherwise you wouldn't have had 20+ years of Nancy Johnson, or 10+ years of Rowland. Let's not forget that plenty of voters have made the choice to remain unaffiliated too.

turfgrrl said...

Also worth noting, this Washington Post article Harold Ickes -- a Democratic operative who recently created an independent political group called the September Fund with a goal of raising $10 million to $20 million for House and Senate campaigns -- said his group cannot afford to target races beyond those that Democrats have already identified as must-wins to capture control of the House for the first time since 1994.

"It has been more difficult raising money than I expected," said Ickes, noting that his group has raised between $5 million and $10 million, half its original goal. "My sense is there is more optimism than is probably warranted," he said about Democratic prospects.
but the whole article is worth a read.

Gabe said...

You can say there's no scholarly reasearch in the zero sum game argument, but it is also just as true that scholarly research isn't exactly abundant on the art and science of fundraising.

Thats well and good, but no one made a claim regarding the art and science of fundraising. You made a claim about its zero sum-ness and its a claim that you cannot back up, because such support for your claim simply doesn't exist.

Put politics aside, and think back to what happened when the Tsunami hit in Dec of '05. Fundraising for victims of that natural disaster hit all time highs, but for every other humanitarian program, fund raising dropped. Money, after all, is not an endless resource.

Charitable giving is a faulty analogy to political giving. Many people plan their charitable giving (cynically speaking, they have an incentive too given the tax benefits), while there is little evidence to suggest that political giving is likewise planned. As an example, the $10 I gave to Lamont did not come at the expense of any congressional candidate - I had not planned to contribute but was moved by the negative stories about Lamont self-funding because he didn't have individual contributors, so I did what little I could (ironically, partly thank yourself for Lamont receiving that $10).

Except looking historically is not quite addressing what is happening on the ground. This is a historic setting year for Democratic fund raising.

Except that I didn't look historically (although one could validly be impressed by the fundraising records broken)! Looking at right now, the three CT congressional candidates are fourth, seventh, and eighth among democratic challengers in terms of raising money (third, sixth, and seventh if you discount Francine Busby)!

This fact, taken from the link you provided, directly contradicts your claim that "in looking at the money in congressional races nationally you can see the CT Democratic challengers lagging." This statement is true only if you are willing to define "lagging" as "leading". You are, of course, entitled to the opinion that they would have even more money if Lamont weren't running (as I stated before, you would be doing so without evidence), but it is flatly wrong to argue that they are lagging behind in fundraising.

Also, what races specifically are you referencing when you write "Other races are keeping pace with Republicans"? Because there are 2 or 3 of the 49 that are, but the vast majority are in far worse shape compared to their opponents than are the three CT challengers!

Where is Lamont's fundraising going? First he keeps having to kick on his own money, and second its going to his own race.

As I stated above, its going to turn out Democratic voters - something that will directly lift the three congressional challengers.

In substance you are wrong about what candidates can do. That is why candidates have PACs and that is how money gets directed.

Did campaign finance reform get repealed? Or do PACs still have limits on how much they can contribute to campaigns?

You are right that Lieberman will attract republican voters in the 5th.

Lets be clear - The issue isn't that Lieberman will attract Republican voters.

Its that he will use his funds to turn them out! He actively needs to work against the three Democratic challengers in order to have a shot at going back to DC. If he doesn't turnout Republicans, he doesn't win. Its pretty clear that you care more about whether those three get elected than he does.

And, you didn't answer my question above! Can we expect to see you on Friday night?

Gabe said...

So the missing $5,000,000 - $10,000,000 was because Ned Lamont ran against Joe Lieberman? Because Ned hasn't raised that much and much of what he raised has come in small dollar donations (the nature of the beast when you take on an 18 year incumbent in your own party)...

When Harold Ickes called me - I call him Hal BTW - and asked for my $10, I, sadly, had to tell him that I had already given my $10 to Ned Lamont, so he was out of luck.

/snark

Gabe said...
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Gabe said...
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Gabe said...

Also, lets not get crazy about the 5th district - its the most conservative in CT, but it also went for Kerry over Bush in 04.

turfgrrl said...

gabe-- I disagree, charitable and political fund raising are very similar. I only gave the example because I think it is an important point to make, that donations are a finite resource. But I think you are making an assumption that I am saying there is some 1 to 1 correlation in the opportunity costs in making a donation. And you handidly provided your $10 example. Ok, there are people who would be non-donators that can be attracted to donate that would otherwise not do so. I'm not saying that they don't exist. But I am saying that there are those donors who would give to issue/candidate x or y but not both. And there's just as much anecdotal evidence of that too.

You keep looking at total raise compared to Democrats, I am looking at totals raised compared to Republicans in their district. In specifics, the Farrell '04 campaign kept pace with Shays. The Farrell '06 campaign is not. So what is the x factor? My argument is that there is less money available to Farrell because unlike '04, there is a contentious senate race sucking up some percent of money. Nationally, this is true as well. Not that Lamont/Lieberman suck up other race money (although you can, and I did, make a case about them affecting Busby during the primary) but that there is only so much money to go around for democratic candidates. Same is true of republicans, but they seem to expand their funding pools, while democrats seem to have trouble attracting new donors. Which is why I linked to the WP and the Ickes comment.

There are limits to what PACS can give, but there's no limit on how many PACS can a congresscritter chuck. Or something like that. It's a loophole.

Yeah, I think Lieberman's GOTV has the potential to hurt the congressional candidates. The congressional candidates are in the unenviable position of of needing to appeal to both Leiberman and Lamont supporters. I think its safe to say that we differ on who deserves blame for that predicament. Farrell can't win the 4th without appealing to conservatives and moderates. I would say the same applies to the 5th, thinking back to Maloney/Johnson.

Sorry I missed your invite for friday, if I can make it to Hartford, sure. Email me the details.

Gabe said...

But I am saying that there are those donors who would give to issue/candidate x or y but not both. And there's just as much anecdotal evidence of that too.

Yes, but only anecdotal evidence - which is my point. We are well into the land of speculation unsupported by facts.

So what is the x factor? My argument is that there is less money available to Farrell because unlike '04, there is a contentious senate race sucking up some percent of money.

Given that all three candidates have raised more money than ever before, it is likely that the x-factor is the amount that the Republicans have raised - clearly something that Lamont's presence does not affect.

Same is true of republicans, but they seem to expand their funding pools, while democrats seem to have trouble attracting new donors. Which is why I linked to the WP and the Ickes comment.

Hal has ran out of rich people, lets not expand that problem to the Democratic Party. At every level, DNC, DSCC, DCCC, we have raised more money from more people than any other off year ever (adjusted). So may heart goes out to Ickes, but he is, quite frankly, part of the Democrats' problem, not part of the solution.

I think its safe to say that we differ on who deserves blame for that predicament.

You think?

Gabe said...

But I am saying that there are those donors who would give to issue/candidate x or y but not both. And there's just as much anecdotal evidence of that too.

Yes, but only anecdotal evidence - which is my point. We are well into the land of speculation unsupported by facts.

So what is the x factor? My argument is that there is less money available to Farrell because unlike '04, there is a contentious senate race sucking up some percent of money.

Given that all three candidates have raised more money than ever before, it is likely that the x-factor is the amount that the Republicans have raised - clearly something that Lamont's presence does not affect.

Same is true of republicans, but they seem to expand their funding pools, while democrats seem to have trouble attracting new donors. Which is why I linked to the WP and the Ickes comment.

Hal has ran out of rich people, lets not expand that problem to the Democratic Party. At every level, DNC, DSCC, DCCC, we have raised more money from more people than any other off year ever (adjusted). So may heart goes out to Ickes, but he is, quite frankly, part of the Democrats' problem, not part of the solution.

I think its safe to say that we differ on who deserves blame for that predicament.

You think?

cgg said...

Any fundraiser, political or otherwise, who isn't prepared for competition and unexpected situations shouldn't be raising money in the first place. You know what the first sign of a lousy fundraiser is? They blame their lack of progress on everything and everyone else. It's a natural disaster or the political climate, anything unexpected gets the blame, anything that doesn't point to their own performance.

Blaming Ned Lamont for the the Democratic Party's less than stellar fundraising this year makes about as much sense as blaming him for global warming. Any examination of why an organization or candidate isn't creating the buzz needed to attract money has to begin from within.

turfgrrl said...

Gabe-- Hal is not the only one. The complaints are coming from Schumer and Emmanuel. And the big money hasn't exactly poured into the DNC. The RNC, btw, is none too happy about having to spend money in races that were once deemed safe, so the finite pool of money thing is not a party specific thing.

Again, the real interesting part will be post election. There's a lot of pissed off donkeys on both sides of the Lieberman/lamont divide that will not get out of their WWI trenches and figure out how to unify. There's a priceless opportunity to pick up those liberal republicans that don't fit into the evangelical republican party, will the dems get welcome them or ostracize them?

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