Record do­na­tions pull for Democrats

Chal­lengers in key races out­spend­ing in­cum­bents, al­ter his­tor­i­cal pat­tern

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DINAN

For­get the blue wave, or even the red wave — this year’s elec­tion is re­ally a green wave of cash.

Not only are the midterms set­ting records for cam­paign spend­ing, but Demo­cratic chal­lengers also have bro­ken the mold by match­ing or even ex­ceed­ing in­cum­bent Repub­li­cans in key races, flip­ping the script on the usual pat­tern for a party out of power.

Also adding to Democrats’ edge is a flood of “dark money,” which the party decries on the cam­paign trail but is boost­ing its prospects in some of the tight­est races.

Repub­li­cans still have the big­gest backer in casino mag­nate Shel­don Adelson, but Democrats are try­ing to close the gap with spend­ing by bil­lion­aires such as Tom Steyer and Michael R. Bloomberg, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ter for Re­spon­sive Pol­i­tics, which re­leased a ma­jor fundrais­ing anal­y­sis.

On the cam­paign trail, Repub­li­can law­mak­ers say they have been swamped by Democrats’ on­line fundrais­ing prow­ess. Their op­po­nents are col­lect­ing mil­lions of dol­lars even in long-shot races, where the money is put­ting pre­vi­ously out-of-range seats at the fringes of the tar­get list.

“I’ve been do­ing this stuff for over 30 years, and I’ve never seen it where you have in­cum­bents get­ting out­spent to the level they’re get­ting out­spent,” said Jim McLaugh­lin, a long­time Repub­li­can op­er­a­tive who is work­ing some of the most con­tested races this year.

A stag­ger­ing amount of Democrats’ cash — $1.5 bil­lion — was raised via Ac­tBlue, an on­line por­tal that al­lows Amer­i­cans to dole out small-dol­lar con­tri­bu­tions to their fa­vorite lib­eral can­di­dates and or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Some $250 mil­lion was raised in Oc­to­ber alone, Ac­tBlue an­nounced Wed­nes­day. Al­though not all of the cash goes straight to pol­i­tics — some fun­nels to non­profit groups — it’s a mas­sive amount of money that the Repub­li­can Party can­not com­pete with.

Ac­tBlue said nearly two-thirds of those do­nat­ing through its site this elec­tion sea­son are first-timers and that the av­er­age do­na­tion is $40.

The fi­nan­cial edge is likely one rea­son why Democrats, who had been wa­ver­ing on their prospects, are once again bullish about win­ning the 23 seats needed to take con­trol of the House.

“We will win, we will win, we will win,” House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, told comic Stephen Col­bert on CBS’s “The Late Show” pro­gram. “Democrats will carry the House. If we have a big­ger vic­tory, [we’ll also carry] the Se­nate, gov­er­nor­ships. It’s go­ing to be a great night for Amer­ica.”

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, who is fight­ing to main­tain the Repub­li­can ma­jor­ity even as he re­tires, sug­gested that Democrats aren’t par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar with vot­ers — but they are with donors.

“We don’t see a big blue wave as much as we see just a lot of money be­ing spent against our can­di­dates, which is ob­vi­ously a chal­lenge,” the Wis­con­sin Repub­li­can told ra­dio sta­tion WVLK on Tues­day.

The Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee has trounced the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee in fundrais­ing, but that is about the only ad­van­tage for the party.

The Cen­ter for Re­spon­sive Pol­i­tics pre­dicts 2017-2018 spend­ing on na­tional elec­tions of more than $5.2 bil­lion, a record “by a wide mar­gin,” and Democrats will win the money race.

The cen­ter projects Demo­cratic can­di­dates, party com­mit­tees, po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tees and other al­lies will spend an un­prece­dented $2.5 bil­lion. Their Repub­li­can coun­ter­parts will spend less than $2.2 bil­lion.

Third-party and non­par­ti­san or­ga­ni­za­tions ac­count for about $460 mil­lion.

Demo­cratic can­di­dates in the House alone have col­lected more than $951 mil­lion, com­pared with Repub­li­cans’ $637 mil­lion, the Cen­ter for Re­spon­sive Pol­i­tics said.

“For the first time in a decade, Blue will out­raise Red,” the an­a­lysts said.

That car­ries over to spe­cific races such as Demo­crat Deb­bie Mu­carsel-Pow­ell’s at­tempt to oust Repub­li­can Rep. Car­los Curbelo in south­ern Florida.

Mr. Curbelo is no fundrais­ing slouch, but Ms. Mu­carsel-Pow­ell and her al­lies have out­spent Repub­li­cans in tele­vi­sion ad­ver­tis­ing by a mar­gin of nearly 2-to-1 — $12.3 mil­lion to $7.2 mil­lion.

Democrats are eas­ily lead­ing the push for small-dol­lar do­na­tions, de­fined as those less than $200, but they are also strik­ingly com­pet­i­tive at the top end, where bil­lion­aires are pour­ing their own cash into po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tees and other or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Repub­li­can megadonor Mr. Adelson and his wife lead at $113 mil­lion, Mr. Steyer and his wife have ponied up $51 mil­lion, Mr. Bloomberg has con­trib­uted $38 mil­lion and Don­ald Suss­man has given $23 mil­lion. Six of the top 10 on the Cen­ter for Re­spon­sive Pol­i­tics’ list are Demo­cratic donors.

“Their bil­lion­aires are much more mo­ti­vated than our bil­lion­aires right now,” said Mr. McLaugh­lin.

One sur­pris­ing change this year is a drop in what an­a­lysts call “dark money,” which is spend­ing where the source of the con­tri­bu­tion isn’t re­quired to be re­vealed.

The Cen­ter for Re­spon­sive Pol­i­tics said nearly $128 mil­lion in dark money has been spent this cy­cle. That is down sig­nif­i­cantly from 2014, when nearly $178 mil­lion was spent.

Po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tees are get­ting more money from dark-money groups, which the Cen­ter for Re­spon­sive Pol­i­tics said sug­gests anony­mous do­na­tions haven’t faded but are be­ing fun­neled.

Over­all, some of this year’s Se­nate races al­ready top $100 mil­lion in spend­ing. A ma­jor­ity of the money is com­ing from out­side groups rather than the can­di­dates. House races cost­ing $20 mil­lion or more are also not un­com­mon.

Seth McLaugh­lin con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Deb­bie Mu­carsel-Pow­ell, a Demo­crat chal­leng­ing Repub­li­can Rep. Car­los Curbelo in Florida, along with her al­lies, have out­spent Repub­li­cans in tele­vi­sion ad­ver­tis­ing by a mar­gin of nearly 2-to-1.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.