DNC out of cash?

posted at 10:41 am on October 10, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Does this remind Republicans of anything — say, how the RNC managed to nearly miss a dramatic Republican resurgence through poor cash management in the 2010 midterm elections?  Keep that in mind while reading how poor fundraising and a greedy presidential campaign has left the Democratic National Committee in the red with just two months to go before a national election:

The Democratic National Committee had more debt than cash on hand when the general election started in September, a troubling fact few people have noticed to this point in the campaign.

We already knew that the Republican National Committee had more than 10 times as much cash as the DNC while the party’s were holding their conventions, but a closer look at the DNC’s August report shows it also took out $8 million in loans during that month — which means it had more debt ($11.8 million) than cash on hand ($7.1 million).

Republicans managed to do all right in 2010, although some in the GOP still believe that the haul in both the House and Senate could have been bigger with GOTV help from the RNC.  That didn’t materialize, as the Michael Steele RNC ran out of cash and gas.  Only the intervention of outside groups like American Crossroads rescued the GOP, although the grassroots fervor probably did most of the work itself.

That’s not a winning formula for Democrats, for a couple of reasons.  First, the outside-group advantage is still with Republicans.  Second, voter enthusiasm is already on the side of the GOP, as several polls attest.  The need for fully-funded GOTV efforts is more critical for Democrats as a result, and not just in the presidential campaign.  In order to protect its incumbents in the House and Senate, let alone make gains, the DNC has to build its own structures to organize effectively in those districts.

Team Obama doesn’t have those problems, though — because they’ve been strangling the DNC:

The national party committees, in a presidential election year, do benefit from a joint fundraising committee that raises money both for them and for their presidential candidate. But while Mitt Romney’s joint committee has sent $86 million to the RNC since March, President Obama’s joint committee has sent significantly less — about $35 million — to the DNC, including a total of zero dollars in August.

Much more of Obama’s total fundraising, which is more dependent on small-dollar givers, has gone to his campaign, while Romney’s fundraising, a majority of which comes from big donors, has gone to the RNC. This is because the candidates themselves can only accept up to $5,000 per donor, while party committees can accept just more than $30,000. So while only so much of big-donor money can go to Romney, small-donor money goes almost exclusively to Obama.

That financial reality means the DNC has had to lean much more on its own fundraising, but even there, it has been outraised $176 million to $111 million by the RNC this election cycle — and $94 million to $51 million this calendar year.

This means that the RNC has a real opportunity to beat Democrats in Congressional races this year.  They are better funded, and apparently better organized, than the DNC at that level.  That will have an impact on the presidential race, too, but it’s most likely to be felt down ballot.

That isn’t stopping Romney from taking the offensive and courting Obama voters from 2008, however:

Mitt Romney is putting a new emphasis on visiting counties that voted for President Barack Obama in 2008, as he urges Republicans in swing states to help him push the president’s supporters to switch sides.

The change in tactics comes as last week’s presidential debate, in which Mr. Romney was widely seen as besting the president, has boosted Mr. Romney’s standing in both national and battleground-state polls. A new Gallup survey released Tuesday—its first sounding of likely voters—found that Mr. Romney held a two-point lead among that group, 49% to 47%. …

Until recently, Mr. Romney had been spending a larger share of his time in Republican-leaning areas, working to boost turnout among his party’s core voters. But with the pool of undecided voters now small, Mr. Romney is stepping up efforts to strip Mr. Obama of some of his more tentative supporters.

“I’d like you to go out and find one person who voted for Barack Obama, or maybe two or three or four or five, and convince them to join our team,” Mr. Romney told supporters in Denver recently. “I need you to go out and find people and say, ‘You know what? It’s not working.’ ”

Rich Beeson, Mr. Romney’s political director, said the candidate was spending time campaigning on the president’s turf. “We are playing on their side of the 50-yard line,” he said.

If the two campaigns are evenly matched on cash-on-hand, the DNC’s woes could prove to be an albatross all through the ballot for Democrats. They may not even have enough resources to play an effective defense.  Romney’s testing them out now, and might force them to wipe out all of their remaining resources on their side of the 50-yard line.


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