The new, good news for the Democrats is that the Democrats have $22 milliion more in cash than Republicans for camaign 2010. The old, bad news for the Democrats is that it really does seem to be shaping up as a lousey year for Democrats, when the party could face a major blow out at the polls — and President Barack Obama could wind up having his political sails trimmed.
The three Democratic campaign committees ended March with approximately $22 million more in the bank than their Republican counterparts, a financial edge that party strategists hope will insulate them from considerable losses in the coming midterm elections.
For the month of March, the Democratic National Committee ($13.5 million raised), the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ($6 million) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ($9.8 million) collected just north of $29 million.
By contrast, the Republican National Committee ($11.6 million), National Republican Senatorial Committee ($5 million) and the National Republican Congressional Committee ($8) million brought in roughly $24 million for the month.
The widest cash on hand differential between committees was in the House where the DCCC ended March with $26 million in the bank as compared to just $10 million for the NRCC. The closest margin was in the Senate where the DSCC’s $17 million on hand outpaced the NRSC’s cash total by just $2 million.
As always, the release of the numbers were quickly followed by spin on what they meant for the midterms.
We’ll skip the spin because you know how each party will frame it, so why waste the space here? Just go to your favorite political cable show so you can see what you know they will say before they talk, or one of your favorite blogs that promotes one party or another where you know how this will be framed before you get there.
The realities are these:
The latest Quinnipiac poll should be highly worrisome to the Dems and the White House:
President Barack Obama’s job approval, which bounced slightly to a 45 – 46 percent split March 25 in the wake of his health care victory, has flattened out at 44 – 46 percent, his lowest approval rating since his inauguration.
…”President Barack Obama’s approval rating hovers at an all-time low. The White House had predicted passage of the health care overhaul would boost his fortunes, but that has not been the case, and that legislation itself remains decidedly unpopular,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
“At this point Americans are slightly more confident than not that President Obama will make a good choice for the Supreme Court, but they split with 42 percent saying the nominee will be too liberal and 42 percent saying the nominee will be about right,” Brown added.
What can you conclude by all of this?
1. The Democrats have a cash advantage and if this holds up, as Cillizza notes, it may help the party limit its losses in November — providing Obama’s poll numbers aren’t in the basement and he and the Democrats have success in passing some kind of financial reform and approving a new Supreme Court justice.
2. Just as the Democrats have shot themselves in the foot, Republicans sometimes have a way of pulling defeat from the jaws of victory. If they overreach as a party, if what some fear is an extremist segment of the party is involved in some high profile news story that hurts the GOP’s image, Republicans could be sorely disappointed in November. Many Republicans and conservatives now talk as if they are already controlling both houses of Congress again.
News that the Arizona House has passed a law that basically will require Obama to prove his citizenship if he runs for re-election is the kind of story that may play well with fans of talk show hosts or those who are still talking about Bill Clinton and Vince Foster but leave a rancid smell with other voters the GOP may need.
Independents often hold their nose and vote for one of two parties who they don’t totally agree with. It makes it harder to hold your nose if there’s a stinking smell that doesn’t have to do with specific policy but with signs of how partisanship has become the end itself in a high stakes end game.
The old saying is: if you like down with dogs, you get fleas. Some voters will wonder: if I lie down with an elephant or donkey which has the worst smell and who would I least want to smell like?
But the Democrats can’t found on GOPers to be (pardon the use of the word) dummies: top leaders have shown flexibility and political wiseness. For instance, after days of seeming like they were going to try and halt financial reform, top Republicans in Congress now say a bipartisan deal looks possible. A major shift..
But is Republican confidence setting the party’s base up for major anger if the final votes don’t meet high expectations now publically set by some party leaders? First Read:
*** And the bar’s been set: At a pen and pad briefing with reporters yesterday, NRCC Chair Pete Sessions pulled no punches when it came to the so-called “expectations game.” He said anything short of winning the majority this year is nothing more than a “warm bucket of spit.” Sessions also revealed that the GOP would indeed release a Contract with America, “painting a picture” of what a House GOP majority will look like and some deliverables that Sessions says voters can hold the party accountable for. This new Contract, Sessions said, would likely be unveiled after Labor Day. As for Sessions’ race by race take, he touted a few things: 1) geographical balance in their target races; 2) the flood of “new” candidates, i.e. those folks who have NEVER held elective office; and 3) the need to improve in the suburbs. In short, it was a VERY confident Sessions presiding over this briefing.
3. If the Dems’ cash and any GOP hubris mean the Democrats lose seats but not anywhere near what thoughtful pundits (such as Larry Sabato) predict, then look for a call to dump RNC Chair Michael Steele ASAP to begin and reciminations begin as to whether the party needs to be more or less lockstep conservative. If the Dems take a big hit Obama will join the ranks of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton as Presidents who didn’t live up to what some pundits felt was his potential but through a series of missteps and perhaps political ineptness squandered reservoirs of clout.
The bottom bottom line: The money could help stave off Democratic losses but it’s not looking good for the Democrats. But hope for Democrats could spring eternal since the GOP could scare away some voters that could otherwise vote for if the party’s more strident factions take center stage — and pitchfork themselves into the headlines.
Republicans can make big gains if some voters disappointed in the Democrats feel the GOP offers a thoughtful, substantive alternative to Democrats who have not yet peformed well at the job they were hired by voters to do.
A big if or not?
Time will tell.
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Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.