Saturday, October 11, 2008

Keeping our eyes all over the ticket

While Republicans have spent millions of dollars helping John McCain in his presidential campaign, Democrats have been sure to keep their eyes up and down the ticket. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the Democrats hold a significant cash advantage going into Election Day in the fight for Congress.

“The Democratic money edge extends across all congressional races, but is most pronounced in House contests. Through Wednesday, the party had spent $23.5 million, compared with $1.5 million spent by national Republicans. The money is being used on television and radio advertisements, as well as direct mailings, aimed at swaying undecided voters and moving supporters to the polls.

In Senate races, Democrats have shelled out nearly twice as much -- $25.1 million compared with $13 million for Republicans.”

How are the parties prioritizing this cash?

While media buys have been an obvious and significant part of the expenditures, the DSCC, DCCC, RNSC, and RNCC have now been transferring an enormous amount to state parties for their GOTV operations.

Transfers to state parties for get-out-the-vote efforts (as of Aug. 31);
DCCC $3,767,217
DSCC $11,221,524
NRCC $10,000
NRSC $42,181
Source: Federal Election Commission

So far, the foresight to help House and Senate candidates has done the Democrats well, as many now expect major Democratic gains in Congress.

If current trends hold, the Republicans could lose 20 to 30 seats in the House, double the number anticipated last summer, several Republican strategists said. That would reduce the party's ranks to levels not seen since before it took control of the House in the "Republican Revolution" of 1994.

In the Senate, as many as eight to 10 Republican-held seats could be at risk, the strategists said. Republican stalwarts such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sen. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina are teetering. In Georgia, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who voted for Mr. Bush's financial-industry rescue plan, now is running only slightly ahead of his Democratic challenger, a former state representative with relatively little money. "We could wind up after the election back to 1992 levels," said veteran Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio.

It should be noted that the only district with a Democratic incumbent that is getting similar cash flows from both parties is where HSG’s current Race of the Week is being fought. Good luck Congressman Kagen!

If expectations are met for the Democrats, the 111th Congress will be more likely to prevent filibusters in the Senate and – should John McCain rise to the Presidency – more capable of overturning vetoes. This certainly goes to show the importance of a good fundraising operation.

Friday, October 10, 2008

How Obama is Winning the West - by HSG

Ben Smith of Politico reported today on an eye-opening trend in one of the most important national demographics: Hispanics are turning a “cold shoulder” to McCain.

"Recent Gallup surveys show McCain with just 26 percent of the
Hispanic vote.”

While President Bush faired remarkably well among Latinos in 2004 - earning 40% of the Latino vote - John McCain has failed to capitalize upon his traditional support amongst Latinos.

Despite championing immigration reform in 2007, John McCain is poised to lose the Hispanic vote by a landslide margin that is well below President George W. Bush's 2004 performance.

Polls show Obama winning the broadest support from Latino voters of any Democrat in a decade, while McCain is struggling to reach 30 percent, closer to Senator Bob Dole's dismal 1996 result than to Bush's historic 40% four years ago.

McCain seems to have wound up with the worst of both worlds: He appears to be getting no credit from Latino voters for his past support for immigration reform, while carrying the baggage of other Republicans' hostility to illegal immigration.

And he's been unable or unwilling to attack Obama—who was once thought to have taken a lethally liberal stance by supporting granting drivers licenses to illegal immigrants—from the right.

This is undoubtedly a major factor for Obama’s successes this year in New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada.

As October puts four states with large Hispanic populations - Florida, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico - at the center of the presidential contest, what appeared at first to be a possible strength for McCain has emerged as a profound weakness.

How are the campaigns targeting this critical demographic?

Obama's goal has been simple: To associate McCain with the anti-illegal immigrant Republican right. One ad - which even some of Obama's allies declined to defend - associated McCain with tough immigration-related rhetoric from Rush Limbaugh. McCain countered with an ad accusing Obama of distortions and, less credibly, of having killed last year's immigration reform measure himself.

Obama, whose Spanish-language barrage also touches a range of economic issues, responded with a more defensible attack ad, saying McCain "surrendered to the anti-immigrant movement" by saying he wouldn't vote for his own immigration reform bill.

"We're seeing the most aggressive Spanish language communication campaign for president that the state of Florida and the country has ever seen," said Fernand Amandi, the executive vice president of Bendixen and Associates, a polling firm that advises Obama.

McCain advisor Ana Navarro called the attack ads "pathetic ploys," and conceded that McCain is being dramatically outspent on the Spanish-language airwaves.

"Obama is trying to do with $20 million what John McCain has done with over 20 years of service," she said, citing a figure released by the Obama campaign. "We don't have that kind of money to spend."

Nonetheless, McCain continues to push hard for the Hispanic vote. He spoke about his plan to buy up bad mortgages in an interview with Univision Thursday, and he has offered almost nothing to the anti-immigration wing of his party since sewing up the Republican nomination.

It should be noted that after Bush won in 2004, Democrats vowed to never again let the GOP earn such success amongst the ever-growing Latino vote.

So far, it appears the Democrats have been true to their word, and it is helping Senator Obama tremendously in the West.