Campaign money bags
Democrats had built up so much momentum near the end of the 2006 congressional campaign that not even a last-minute infusion of $12 million in leftover cash from President Bush’s 2004 coffers could stem the Democratic tide.
In the 40-day period from Oct. 19 through Nov. 27, according to recent filings with the Federal Election Commission, the Republican National Committee (RNC) raised more than $30 million, including the president’s $12 million transfer and a $2 million loan. In the waning days of the midterms, the RNC unleashed a torrent of spending. Approaching $45 million, the RNC splurge included four checks totaling $8 million to the National Republican Congressional Committee and three checks totaling $3.45 million to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Spending commitments totaling another $9 million, which have been excluded from the accounting so far, could bring the cost of the RNC’s futile onslaught to $55 million, a party spokeswoman told the New York Times. By contrast, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) raised and spent only $10.7 mil- lion during the same 40-day period. It is, however, fair to say that the DNC will encounter little difficulty in raising more than enough funds to erase its wisely incurred $4 million debt by year’s end.
The fund-raising success of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee explains why the DNC did not have to raise so much money in the last stages of the campaign. The $119 million raised by the DSCC for the 2005-06 cycle was 35 percent more than the $88.3 million collected by its GOP counterpart, the NRSC. Through Nov. 27, the DSCC spent 122 percent more ($42.6 million vs. $19.2 million) than the NRSC spent for inde- pendent expenditures. Given the minuscule victory margins achieved in three Senate races lost by Republican incumbents (Virginia, Montana and Missouri), it is fair to say that the DSCC was wise in running up debts of $5.4 million (as of Nov. 27), which was nearly 20 times its cash on hand of less than $300,000. On the other hand, the NRSC almost certainly played too cautiously in ending the period with less than $200,000 in debts and nearly $600,000 in cash.
Capturing 30 House seats (in large part by ousting 22 Republican incumbents) and winning control of the upper chamber (by defeating six GOP senators), the Democratic machine roared through the RNC financial onslaught like a razor-edged knife slicing through hot butter. Republicans failed to dislodge a single Democratic incumbent in either the House or the Senate; and Republicans failed to gain a single open seat in either chamber that was vacated by a retiring Democrat.