Isn’t it amazing what a little money can do? It’s even more amazing what a boatload of money can do, along with a long-term organizational plan and the incompetence in both from one’s opponents. Facing first-term-midterm headwinds, the RNC has upped its ground game, NBC reports, in order to counter any enthusiasm gap that might develop in the upcoming elections:
The RNC told NBC News it has already made 20 million traditional voter contacts by phone or door knocking this election cycle, a large number for a nonpresidential election year.
That’s just part of the total 487 million contacts it says it has already made this cycle, including emails opened (250 million), calls made for data gathering purposes (183 million), digital petitions or surveys completed (19 million), direct mail sent (9.6 million), and get-out-the-vote calls made (5.6 million).
That’s been possible in part because of a huge fundraising disparity with the DNC. As of the latest FEC reports for June, the GOP had over $47 million in the bank with no debt at all. The DNC, on the other hand, had only $8.7 million cash on hand with a debt of $5.7 million. That’s a bit better than earlier in the year, when the two nearly canceled each other out, but it’s still a disastrous lag for Democrats looking to get into a competitive position for the midterms.
Democrats have done better with their campaign committees, of course. The DCCC has a bit over $60 million cash on hand, and the DSCC $34 million, but the GOP has been competitive at this level, too; the NRCC has as much cash on hand as the DCCC, although the NRSC only has a little less than half that of the DSCC. However, the NRSC is only defending nine seats this cycle, to the DSCC’s 26, nearly half of which are in red states. The $40 million gap at the party level looks like a determinative factor.
Add to that the organizational edge:
The RNC, whose backstopping of Donald Trump’s skeletal 2016 campaign proved vital, has used that financial advantage to deploy 500 staffers in 27 states, including every battleground, and train more than 15,000 “fellows.”
And note that they still have that financial advantage even after expanding what has been known as the Republican Leadership Initiative. For those who didn’t read my book Going Red (and there are many of you!), the RLI was the GOP’s equivalent of the Barack Obama campaign organizing effort, identifying and engaging neighborhood captains to conduct outreach and messaging efforts on a granular scale, backed up by paid staff. After 2012, Reince Priebus launched the effort in order to counter the poor organizing by presidential nominees such as Mitt Romney, keeping control of the org and its direction within the RNC.
Normally the party committees only organize for presidential cycles and leave it to the campaign committees in the midterms, but having their own grassroots army makes it easy for them to transition to the midterms as well. That’s precisely what they’re reporting here, using a presidential-cycle GOTV effort in support of House and Senate candidates. Democrats may have a very difficult time matching those efforts, even if they have a significant enthusiasm gap advantage.
And, they may not have much of an enthusiasm advantage at all:
A mid-year Emerson College ePoll finds President Trumps’ Job approval rating at 43% and his disapproval at 50% which is an improvement from January’s Emerson epoll that found the President’s approval at 39% and disapproval at 52%. The President continues to maintain support among the 35-54 age group, a core constituency of his base, with an approval of 51% to 42%. However, his approval ranking is lowest in the Midwest – , with 40% approval and 54% disapproval – a region key to Trumps 2016 electoral victory. …
Enthusiasm for the primaries has increased, with 50% reporting now being very excited, a jump of 10 points from January, when 40% reported being very excited. In both polls, Democrats are slightly more excited than Republicans – currently that gap is 55%-52%.
The generic ballot lead for Democrats did expand to seven points (49/42), but that depends on turnout as well as geography. There’s still lots of time to go before the midterms and those political winds will still blow in the GOP’s collective face, but don’t be surprised if the money and organizational advantages pay off — especially with public-employee unions taking a massive hit from Janus.