Democrats' Imaginary Cash Gap

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Despite loud complaints from Democrats that they're being wildly outspent by Republicans and their shadowy anonymous allies--a bogeyman the White House has made a centerpiece in their closing campaign strategy--liberal third-party groups are quickly catching up to pro-GOP spending levels as election day nears. Unions and other independent groups have started pouring money into races across the country, sometimes exploiting rules to keep donors secret despite Democrats' condemnation of groups like the Chamber of Commerce for doing the same thing. Last week, 40 percent of independent group spending went to back Democrats. This marks a sharp change from a few weeks ago, when conservative groups outspent liberal ones 7 to 1, The Washington Post's T.W. Farnam and Dan Eggen report. Including the campaign cash shelled out to them by the national parties, Democrats are benefiting from nearly half (46 percent) of all independent spending. Third-party groups spent $100,000 in 66 congressional districts last week, and in 29 of them, the Democrat got a bigger assist than the Republican.

  • Meanwhile, Democrats Still Have a Fundraising Advantage In the 109 competitive House races this year, Democrats have raised 30 percent more money than their Republican opponents. And in recent months, Democratic candidates have spent $119 million, far more than their opponents' collective $79 million. "As a result, the battle for control of the House has been increasingly shaping up as a test of whether a Democratic fund-raising edge, powered by the advantages of incumbency but accumulated in the smaller increments allowed by campaign finance law, can withstand the continuing deluge of spending by groups able to operate outside those limits," Michael Luo and Griff Palmer report for The New York Times.
  • Democrats Are Hypocrites, The National Review's Allison Hayward argues. Way back in 2008, a mysteriously-funded ad spoofing Apple's 1984 spot skewered Hillary Clinton as the next Big Brother. Democratic lawyer (and now White House general counsel) Bob Bauer defended the ad and its anonymous funding, saying arguments should matter more than their author. "What a difference an election cycle makes," Hayward writes. "No longer in the position of challengers to the throne, the administration’s key operatives today argue that disclosure of donors is essential to the republic." Bauer once argued that "Disclosure is a mostly unquestioned virtue deserving to be questioned," and that disclosure allows would-be censors to claim the moral highground. It serves the government's purposes, not citizens' need for information. Observes Hayward, "Now they tell us."
  • Dems Are Already Building Their Post-Election Narrative, reports Jeanne Cummings at Politico. Sure, independent groups are funneling much more cash to Republicans than to Democrats. But Democrats' claims of being at a massive campaign spending disadvantage bear little resemblance to reality. The Democratic Party has raised $270 million more than its rival this cycle. And Dems maintain their advantage even when outside spending on TV and mailers is considered: the tally thus far is $856 million for Democrats and their allies against $677 million for the Republican crew. The "David-and-Goliath" tone "seems designed to achieve two ends: insulating Democrats from blame that they gave up big losses in the House and Senate a mere two years after President Barack Obama’s historic win, and suggesting that the Republican wins have an unseemly edge, fueled by the secretive groups," Cummings writes.

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