Monday, April 5, 2010

Show Me the Money: First Glimpse into the Midterms

Summary: With the first quarter over, campaigns prepare for a competitive year.

A lot of people have enjoyed speculating the outcomes of this year’s midterm elections. I’ve done it. You’ve probably done it. We’ve all done it.

This morning I read an interesting post by a liberal blogger who claimed we’re in a “new progressive era” in which Republicans simply won’t win this November. He claims Democrats are in good position with the base now that the healthcare bill is law and we don’t really need to worry anymore.

On the other hand, a new Gallup poll finds that 37% (a significant number) of independents views the Tea Party movement favorably. Meanwhile, Friday’s jobs report found that unemployment is still hovering around 10%.

So how can we know we’re speculating the right way? We can’t, of course.

But there is one important, relevant, and tangible way to get a glimpse into this year’s midterm elections: campaign finance figures.

At this point, we still don’t know exactly how it’s going for everybody - the filing isn’t due until later next week. Until then we’ll just be getting periodic and voluntary fundraising updates from individual campaigns. For now, here are three interesting things to watch for when looking at fundraising headlines…

1) Who is Winning and Losing on Healthcare?

After the healthcare bill passed, CQ Politics reported that it led to a big influx in contributions to candidates of almost all stripes. The exception was moderate Democrats, especially the ones who switched their votes one way or another. Both GOP and primary challengers saw big gains in their war chests as a result.

2) Will the RNC’s Woes Be Another Republican’s Gain?

We all know the RNC has had money problems lately. A lot of donors are now discontinuing their relationship with the organization. The question is whether or not this loss will be offset by more money going to individual campaigns.

3) How Will Citizens United play a role?

A big concern about campaign finance this year has been surrounding the Citizens United v. FEC case from last year, as well as a lesser known case the RNC took to the Supreme Court over soft money contributions. Can Democrats use it to raise more money? Will Republicans bring in less because resources will shift to corporate IEs? We’ll have to see.

Do YOU have any good tips, suggestions, or questions for watching the first quarter fundraising results? Let us know!