For Democrats, It Could Have Been Worse

As bad a night as Democrats are going to have, it could have been much worse. Heck, it still might be much worse. We don't really know yet.  For a while, I've been trying to get final data on the Democratic National Committee's persuasion and targeting efforts to see just how many seats Democrats could have lost without the help of a strong party, a party that is, in essence, an organizational re-formation of an historic presidential campaign. Republicans do NOT have a strong party structure. The bulk of targeting efforts in several states is being conducted by outside groups.


The DNC's Organizing for America arm was never able to mobilize enough voters to match the relentless pulse of Republican enthusiasm, but it turns out that, in the past six months, they did a heck of a lot. President Obama's recent engagement with the election is one reason why Democratic enthusiasm has increased, but without the party to harness it, it would likely have dissipated. Make no mistake: If Democrats win Senate races in Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Nevada, the party gets some credit. 

The DNC pledged to spend $50 million on candidates directly. They spent $66 million, it turns out.  

The party's targeting efforts cost them $16 million. (No wonder: They had 300 separate microtargeting universes.) The party spent $3 million on outreach to black voters, $1 million on outreach to Hispanic voters (amid complaints they did not do enough), and millions on online campaigns. 

Adding in the amount of money the DNC raised for candidates, the total rises to $115 million. When all the numbers come in, expect the DNC to have raised more than $200 million.

And then there are the voter contacts: 75 million. (Most of these were duplicates.) But 75 million direct, voice-to-voice, person-to-person contacts. This weekend, 6.2 million voters were targeted. In the past four days, activists and volunteers worked 38,000 full shifts. Total shifts over six months: 188,580.

Today, volunteers will stage in more than 2,680 locations.

This bodes well for the party in one sense: 2012 should be an easier year, and the multiplier effect of their GOTV efforts will be larger when the environment is better. 
Presented by

Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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