George Soros announced the other day that he and a group of big donors will invest $100 million in a get-out-the-vote effort before the November election. The decision has angered and inconvenienced Democratic leaders who need money for TV ads in a (possibly useless) attempt to battle the Republican Super Pacs’ advertising campaign.
The resulting acrimony and what the Times report labels “infighting” within the Democratic party can’t be helpful.
The decision by Mr. Soros and like-minded donors to help finance independent Democratic groups drew disdain from several Democratic officials. A senior party leader, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid alienating the donors, said: “They don’t get it. What they are doing makes no sense.”
Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, declined to comment on Mr. Soros’s plans. But many liberal donors, including Mr. Soros, have raised objections to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which opened the door for super PACs and unlimited campaign spending. They say they did not believe they could match the Republican groups, so they wanted to try a different approach and back several liberal groups rather than put their financial muscle behind a single effort.
A spokesman for Mr. Soros, Michael Vachon, said financing the grass-roots groups made more sense because liberal groups could not compete with the “floodgates to special interests’ paying for political ads.”
The acrimony among the Democrats — Mr. Soros and many party leaders, including Mr. Obama, are often at odds — could have a real effect on the campaign. Democratic candidates at all levels have expressed concerns about not having the firepower to respond to conservative groups like Crossroads and Americans for Prosperity. And the decision by Mr. Soros and other donors to direct their money to grass-roots efforts revived memories from the 2004 presidential campaign when the Democratic get-out-the-vote effort was largely outsourced and widely seen as ineffective.
The Democratic infighting, which is likely to intensify, comes as Mr. Obama’s campaign is spending $25 million this month to broadcast his first major television advertising campaign. …NYT
Turns out that donors — whether we talking about a sawbuck or several million — will remain politically loyal with votes and rhetoric, but we don’t want to give a dime to a politician who’s disappointed us.
Bill Burton, who runs Priorities USA Action, warned that “there is an ocean of half a billion dollars about to wash over President Obama and the things progressives really care about,” from conservative groups. “We are buuilding an organization to combat that. We got a job to do and we are going to do it.”
Added one senior party operative who closely monitors outside group spending. “If Democrats cannot be competitive with paid media, seats will be lost and the presidential race will be severely imbalanced, making it far harder to build anything longer term.”
Another senior party strategist took it even further, arguing that Soros’ decision to pass over Priorities is evidence of the ongoing riff between liberal donors and the Obama White House.
“Obama continues to be a disappointment to them,” said the source. “While they will vote for him given the alternative, they won’t be doing it with their pocketbook. The groups they are supporting are part of the progressive infrastructure as opposed to candidate Obama.” …Chris Cillizza, WaPo
It could be that major donors will eventually boost Democratic efforts to reelect Obama and turn Congress around. They’ve got the bucks and they have the option.
But, if a major segment of Democratic givers have decided that their money is best spent on continuing to build a broad grassroots infrastructure rather than match conservatives ad for ad in the coming months, it will, almost without question, impact the fight for the presidency this fall. ...Cillizza
“Big Liberal Donors Still Think Super PACs Are Icky”
That’s Elspeth Reeve’s headline for her piece at The Atlantic about Soros & Co’s decision to fund get-out-the-vote efforts rather than fund super PAC. We liberals believe (and we’re right!) that Super PACs are indeed “icky.” Get-out-the-vote efforts are cleaner, nicer.
Maybe we (and Soros) should just get over it, Reeve suggests.
Soros’s spokesman told The Times, “George Soros believes the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United opened the floodgates to special interests’ paying for political ads… There is no way those concerned with the public interest can compete with them.”
One really good way to compete would be to actually try competing, right? …
… In a way, liberals’ hesitance is understandable: the idea of paying for college kids to drive grandmas to polls on election day is much more pleasant than the idea of funding millions of dollars worth of ads that make Mitt Romney look like an Ayn Rand-fetishizing woman-hating gay-bashing robber baron. But an important question in this election will be whether Romney is an acceptable alternative to Obama. One really good way to nudge voters toward thinking Romney is not an acceptable alternative is with negative TV ads — the same way Romney himself disqualified his opponents one by one during the Republican presidential primary. ...Reeve, The Atlantic