Sagging Republican fund-raising
Eyebrows were raised when the cumulative first-quarter fund-raising total ($65.7 million) for the three leading Democratic presidential contenders (Hillary Clinton, $26 million; Barack Obama, $25.7 million; John Edwards, $14 million) exceeded by 35 percent the cumulative total ($48.8 million) of the top three Republicans (Mitt Romney, $21 million; Rudy Giuliani, $14.8 million; John McCain, $13 million). Equally remarkable were the first-quarter trends by the congressional committees. While the Democratic National Committee ($16 million) lagged behind the Republican National Committee ($26 million), it is clear from the early reports that Democrats have learned how to exploit their newly gained majorities in both chambers of Congress.
For the first quarter of 2007, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) raised $19 million — $3 million more than the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). By way of comparison, during the first quarter of 2005 the NRCC raised $20 million, which was 60 percent more than the $12.5 million raised by the DCCC. During the entire 2003-04 period, which was the first election cycle when national party committees were banned from raising unlimited “soft-money” contributions from corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals, the NRCC raised twice as much ($186 million) in limited, regulated “hard-money” donations as the DCCC received ($93 million). For the entire 2005-06 cycle, the NRCC total marginally declined to $180 million while the DCCC’s total soared by more than 50 percent to $140 million, which was still $40 million below the NRCC total. Having gained 30 House seats in the 2006 election and their first majority since the 1992 election, Democrats are now in a position to exploit their 100 percent control of all committee and subcommittee chairmanships, which will serve as dollar magnets for the DCCC. There will be no repeat of the pre-1995 pattern when the minority-party NRCC raised $95.3 million in hard money (1989-1994), while the majority-party DCCC raised only $41.3 million in hard dollars.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), despite the party’s minority status in the Senate during the previous two election cycles, still managed to outraise the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) both times ($89 million to $79 million in 2003-04 and $121 million to $89 million in 200506). During the first quarter of 2007, the DSCC raised $14 million — twice the money collected by the NRSC. Republicans must defend 21 of the 33 Senate seats in play in 2008. If, as appears likely, the DSCC cleans the NRSC’s clock once again on the fund-raising front, the 2008 Senate elections could get very ugly for Republicans.