Karl Rove is begging conservative billionaires for more money as his party lags in fundraising.
From the subscription only Hotline:
Democrats will match, or in some cases exceed, the GOP's spending in most of the Senate battlegrounds in September, according to a review of ad spending and reservations. The Democrats' newfound wealth is mostly a function of their own candidates' prodigious fundraising, the Democratic Senatorial Committee's financial edge over the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and the well-funded Senate Majority PAC. Meanwhile, the biggest money-machine on the GOP side -- the Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity and the affiliated Freedom Partners -- has dramatically scaled back its own TV spending [...]
The biggest problem for Republicans isn't the spending that's happened. It's the spending that's yet to come. Ad reservations shared with National Journal Hotline show big gaps in scheduled spending in states like Colorado, Iowa, and New Hampshire. The DSCC is slated to spend more than twice as much as the NRSC in some coming weeks [...]
Democrats locked in lower rates when they bought months ago.
A lot to unpack here. First of all, party committee
fundraising has absolutely gone strong in the Democrats' favor. Per Open Secrets
, Democrats as a whole have outraised Republicans $595 million to $461 million
. That's a stunning $134 million difference. Why? Because rich Republican fucks decided to quit their parties and put their money into vanity projects like Americans for Prosperity. The Citizens United campaign finance regime has actually hurt
Republicans. Meanwhile, Democrats benefit from a robust small-dollar donor operation. Indeed, about half the money they raise comes from contributions of less than $200.
On the Senate side, Democrats have raised $111 million to $83 million, a difference of about $28 million. Again, stunning.
Now I've written repeatedly about the lack of return on investment from the right-wing ad assault against Democratic candidates. It looks like the Kochs have finally realized it themselves, pulling back from their (useless) ad blitz. They claim they're putting their stretch-run millions into GOTV, which is undoubtedly smarter in theory. Let's see if they spend that money wisely in practice.
But that does leave Republicans in a bind, potentially ceding the air wars to Democrats. While there is a point of diminishing returns, campaigns must maintain some presence on the air in order to prevent one side from dominating the discussion. Democratic candidates themselves have vastly outraised their Republican opponents on every race of consequence (AK, AR, CO, IA, LA, NC), and will have far more resources in the stretch run than their opponents (now lacking air cover from the Kochs).
This is why Karl Rove recently squeezed Sheldon Adelson for $10 million, desperate to fill the gap left by the Koch retreat. But any new ad reservations at this point will cost up to five times as much as what candidates pay, meaning that already marginally effective ads become even less so.
Finally, we're really at a stage in the game—and the virtual tie in the polls confirm it—that base mobilization will decide things. The party that gets more of its supporters to the polls will win. In an off-year election, Republicans have a built-in advantage, which is why we're even considering the idea of a Republican Senate. And to that end, Senate Democrats are running an unprecedented $60+ million GOTV effort in the key battleground states. Let the candidates spend on TV, where they can control the message and get the far better advertising rates, while the party focuses on getting the party faithful to the polls.
Thanks to Citizens United, Republican candidates and their party committees have less money to match Democratic efforts. Yet another unintended consequence of the GOP's dependance on billionaire dollars.