The Republican National Committee is largely getting out of the advertising business and instead will defer to super PACs and campaign committees to have a greater role during this year's midterm election, senior GOP officials said Tuesday.The idea is that there will be so much under-regulated conservative Super PAC dollars in advertising that the RNC won't have to lend a hand. So, it can focus on its nonexistent data operation.
The RNC's priority this year will be on rebuilding its voting databases and it will use 2014 as a test run with the aim of fixing glitches before 2016's presidential contest. They are essentially starting from scratch after the previous databases proved unreliable, outdated and outpaced by Democrats.
It's an interesting gamble. Yes, the GOP needs to improve its data capabilities. They truly do suck. And yes, there will be plenty of Super PAC money blasting the airwaves. But those Super PACs reflect the personalities and priorities of their billionaire donors, thus deliver a fragmented and uncoordinated message. And if bang-for-buck is important, those Super PACs get gouged by TV networks (and deservedly so).
Please read below the fold for more on the GOP's future plans.
The RNC is the most successful party-fundraising vehicle in the GOP, totaling 36 percent of their overall party committee fundraising. In contrast, the DNC has raised just 21 percent of their party's overall take. And given that the Republicans, overall, have raised nearly $100 million less than Democrats this cycle ($206M vs. $297M), pulling that RNC money out of advertising circulation is certainly a gamble.
Maybe the RNC, with its donation limits, can't compete with the unlimited-contribution Super PAC regime. And it's not as if the Republicans have figured out the small-dollar thing. That $100 million advantage the Democrats enjoy? It's people like you and me. About half the money Democrats have raised have been small-dollar, under $200 contributions. Republicans can't even begin to match that. Their base won't even call themselves "Republican" anymore, pretending that the Tea Party is some "independent" thing!
Maybe it doesn't matter. TV is becoming less and less effective as a persuasion medium, so let the billionaires piss away their money on the airwaves. Clearly they have nothing better to do.
And spending money on data is a smart move, particularly for the party of "unskewing." But ceding a critical campaign component to egotistical billionaires is a much riskier proposition. Maybe that will end well for them. Maybe not. I'd bet on the latter.