Repub­li­can Ma­jor­ity

Forward Magazine - - FOREGROUND - By Ben Fracten­berg ●

Mike Levin said small do­na­tions have paid off for him in a big way. The South­ern Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat is part of a slew of swing-district can­di­dates whose strong fundrais­ing num­bers ex­perts con­sider an in­di­ca­tor the party has a shot of re­tak­ing the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Novem­ber.

Levin, whose fa­ther is Jewish and whose mother’s par­ents em­i­grated from Mex­ico, raised $2.6 mil­lion since an­nounc­ing his run in March 2017, more than three times what his Repub­li­can coun­ter­part, Diane Harkey, has brought in. And he has the broad back­ing of over 100,000 small donors who gave an av­er­age of $26 each.

“I feel like we have a ton of mo­men­tum. No one is go­ing to out­work us,” the can­di­date told the For­ward. Harkey’s cam­paign did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

Can­di­da­cies like Levin’s are an ex­am­ple of pow­er­ful Demo­cratic voter en­thu­si­asm that has some re­spected an­a­lysts say­ing they have a solid chance at flip­ping the House. How­ever, Repub­li­cans have their own ad­van­tages, in­clud­ing huge in­fu­sions of cash into sev­eral su­per PACs — po­lit­i­cal com­mit­tees that can raise un­lim­ited amounts of money, but can’t co­or­di­nate with can­di­dates — from mega-donors like Jewish casino mogul Shel­don Adel­son, who gave $30 mil­lion to the GOP-linked Con­gres­sional Lead­er­ship Fund in May.

Levin is one of a crop of Demo­cratic Jewish chal­lengers in swing dis­tricts across the coun­try who have sig­nif­i­cantly out­raised their Repub­li­can coun­ter­parts, in­clud­ing sev­eral in­cum­bents, in the last fi­nan­cial quar­ter, the For­ward has found in a re­view of the lat­est crop of fil­ings with the Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion.

The group of ten Democrats, in­clud­ing Kathy Man­ning in North Carolina, Elissa Slotkin in Michi­gan, Su­san Wild in Penn­syl­va­nia and Levin in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, took in more than $7.8 mil­lion from April 1 through June 30, com­pared

14 to nearly $6 mil­lion their Repub­li­cans ri­vals brought in, FEC fil­ings show.

The party needs to pick up 23 seats to gain a ma­jor­ity, which would put Democrats in a po­si­tion to chal­lenge Pres­i­dent Trump in a way that Repub­li­cans have not. Two rep­utable non-par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal fore­cast­ing firms say the Democrats could take back the House.

A near eight-point ad­van­tage in generic Con­gres­sional polling is a pos­i­tive in­di­ca­tor for the party, Geoffrey Skel­ley, man­ag­ing ed­i­tor for the non­par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal fore­caster Sa­bato’s Crys­tal Ball told the For­ward, as is Trump’s ap­proval rat­ings, which are hov­er­ing just north of 40%. The generic bal­lot is the per­cent­age of vot­ers in na­tional sur­veys who say they in­tend to vote for ei­ther the “generic” Repub­li­can or Demo­crat in their district, if the race were be­ing held the day the ques­tion was be­ing asked, ac­cord­ing to the Pew Re­search Cen­ter.

“Can­di­date fundrais­ing def­i­nitely points to Demo­cratic en­thu­si­asm, es­pe­cially in sub­ur­ban dis­tricts where Demo­cratic vot­ers are look­ing for an out­let to vent their frus­tra­tions with the pres­i­dent,” said Leah Askari­nam, a re­porter/ an­a­lyst with the non­par­ti­san In­side Elec­tions.

That or­ga­ni­za­tion, which is fore­cast­ing the Democrats pick up be­tween 20 and 30 seats, said the fundrais­ing hauls are es­pe­cially im­por­tant for can­di­dates who are chal­leng­ing in­cum­bents.

“You need enough money for vot­ers to know who you are and what your mes­sage is,” she said. “[That] could mean ad­ver­tis­ing on TV. In­cum­bents don’t need quite as much since they’ve al­ready been on the bal­lot [and vot­ers know their names].”

Of course, Repub­li­cans have their mas­sive su­per PAC funds to de­ploy against the suc­cess Democrats have ex­pe­ri­enced in in­di­vid­ual races, Askari­nam said.

The an­a­lyst added the im­pact of Adel­son’s money will be tested dur­ing an up­com­ing spe­cial elec­tion in the sub­urbs around Colum­bus, Ohio, with the CLF spend­ing sub­stan­tial funds on TV spots en­dors­ing Repub­li­can Troy Balder­son against Demo­crat Danny O’Con­nor.

Trump also tweeted his sup­port for Balder­son, fur­ther rais­ing the stakes.


BIG PLANS: Mike Levin is a South­ern Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat hop­ing to re­take the House from the Repub­li­cans.

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