Repub­li­cans’ strong boxes

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

The fund-rais­ing achieve­ments and the fi­nan­cial po­si­tions of the two na­tional party com­mit­tees in charge of col­lect­ing and spend­ing money on be­half of House can­di­dates have un­der­gone ma­jor re­ver­sals since the Democrats seized con­trol of the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in last year’s elec­tions. Dur­ing the first six months of 2007, ac­cord­ing to re­ports filed with the Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion (FEC), the Demo­cratic Con­gres­sional Cam­paign Com­mit­tee (DCCC) raised $36.4 mil­lion, nearly $7 mil­lion more than the $29.5 mil­lion raised by the Na­tional Repub­li­can Con­gres­sional Com­mit­tee (NRCC). On June 30, the DCCC had $19.5 mil­lion in cash on hand and debts of $4.1 mil­lion, leav­ing a “freecash“ po­si­tion (cash-on-hand mi­nus debt) of $15.4 mil­lion at midyear. By con­trast, the NRCC had only $2 mil­lion in cash on June 30 and $4.3 mil­lion in debt. Thus, the NRCC’s free-cash po­si­tion was a neg­a­tive $2.3 mil­lion, a sit­u­a­tion the NRCC had not en­coun­tered since mid-1993, the last time Repub­li­cans were the mi­nor­ity party in the House.

How the two com­mit­tees ar­rived at their cur­rent sit­u­a­tions can be traced to the endgame of last year’s fe­ro­cious cam­paign for con­trol of the House. Fi­nan­cial re­ports filed with the FEC re­veal that the NRCC took out $8 mil­lion in loans dur­ing the last three weeks of the 2006 cam­paign. Over the same pe­riod, the DCCC took out $11.5 mil­lion in loans. The Democrats gained 31 seats and achieved a 31-seat (233-202) ma­jor­ity, putting them in a po­si­tion to end the year with fewer debts than Repub­li­cans had. While the DCCC ended 2006 with less than $1 mil­lion in the bank and $9.3 mil­lion in debts, the NRCC had $1.4 mil­lion in cash and $14.4 mil­lion in debts.

Even worse for the NRCC, Repub­li­cans en­tered 2007 with sup­port­ers who haven’t been nearly as forth­com­ing with con­tri­bu­tions dur­ing the first six months of this year as they were af­ter the 2002 and 2004 Repub­li­can vic­to­ries. In­deed, com­pared to the $29.5 mil­lion the NRCC raised dur­ing the first six months of 2007, it had raised $45.5 mil­lion dur­ing the first six months of 2003 and $40 mil­lion dur­ing the first six months of 2005. Com­pared to the $2 mil­lion in cash and $4.3 mil­lion in debts the NRCC had on June 30, 2007, it had $16.4 mil­lion in cash and zero debts on June 30, 2005. By con­trast, on June 30, 2005, the DCCC had $8.5 mil­lion in cash and $3.7 mil­lion in debt, leav­ing a free-cash po­si­tion of $4.9 mil­lion, which was $11.5 mil­lion less than the NRCC’s on June 30, 2005. Af­ter Repub­li­cans gained three House seats in the 2004 elec­tions, the DCCC fin­ished that year with $1.7 mil­lion in cash and $11.2 mil­lion in debts, while the NRCC fin­ished 2004 with $3.2 mil­lion in cash and $40,000 in debts.

Over the 2003-07 pe­riod, as Jan­uaryJune NRCC to­tal re­ceipts have de­clined from $45.5 mil­lion (2003) to $40 mil­lion (2005) to $29.5 mil­lion (2007), Jan­uaryJune DCCC fund-rais­ing to­tals have jumped from $14.5 mil­lion (2003) to $24.1 mil­lion (2005) to $36.4 mil­lion (2007). Thus, over a pe­riod of only four years, the NRCC’s $31 mil­lion Jan­uary-June 2003 ad­van­tage has evolved into a DCCC fundrais­ing ad­van­tage of $6.9 mil­lion for the Jan­uary-June 2007 pe­riod.

As dra­matic as the DCCC’s rel­a­tive im­prove­ment has been dur­ing the first six months of the last three elec­tion cy­cles, the com­mit­tee also made fund-rais­ing progress over the three pre­vi­ous two-year cy­cles. Be­fore the McCain-Fein­gold law banned na­tional party com­mit­tees from ac­cept­ing soft money (un­reg­u­lated, un­lim­ited con­tri­bu­tions from busi­ness, la­bor and wealthy in­di­vid­u­als) fol­low­ing the 2002 elec­tions, the NRCC achieved only a 23 per­cent soft-money ad­van­tage ($69.7 mil­lion vs. $56.5 mil­lion) over the DCCC in the 2001-02 cy­cle. But dur­ing the same pe­riod, the NRCC achieved a 166 per­cent hard­money (reg­u­lated, lim­ited con­tri­bu­tions) ad­van­tage over the DCCC ($123.6 mil­lion vs. $46.4 mil­lion). Dur­ing the 2003-2004 cy­cle, as the DCCC’s hard money in­creased by more than 100 per­cent (from $46.4 mil­lion to $93.2 mil­lion), the NRCC’s hard-money ad­van­tage de­clined to 99 per­cent ($185.7 mil­lion vs. $93.2 mil­lion) — al­though its ab­so­lute ad­van­tage in­creased to more than $90 mil­lion. Dur­ing the 2005-06 cy­cle, the DCCC’s hard-money re­ceipts in­creased by 50 per­cent to $139.9 mil­lion, while the NRCC’s re­ceipts ac­tu­ally fell by 3 per­cent to $179.5 mil­lion, re­duc­ing the NRCC’s ad­van­tage from $92.5 mil­lion (2003-04) to less than $40 mil­lion (200506), or 28 per­cent.

If the first six months of 2007 are a use­ful guide, House Repub­li­cans face very, very big trou­ble in 2008.

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