Call it an exercise in making every dollar count: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee pulled one of the oldest tricks in the book this week, buying radio ads in tiny amounts in hopes of earning local media coverage. And, despite Republicans' best efforts, it actually worked.
The DCCC's ad buy targeted 25 incumbent Republicans, accusing them of voting to gut Medicare by supporting Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget proposal. But Democrats put less than $6,000 behind the radio spots. In some districts, the committee plopped down money that wouldn't make a respectable power lunch in Washington; the committee spent only $40 in Rep. Larry Bucshon's district in southwest Indiana, and just $60 in districts in Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois and South Dakota.
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Such small buys aren't intended to influence an electorate. Instead, they're aimed at influencing the journalists in those districts; "Democrats target Canseco over Medicare," the San Antonio Express-News wrote, of Rep. Quico Canseco (R-Texas). Those journalists won't bother to check and see how much Democrats paid for those ads. In fact, the vast majority of voters in Canseco's district have almost no chance of hearing the DCCC's ads, on which Democrats spent all of $240.
This time, a Republican-friendly organization, American Crossroads, called Democrats on their feint. The group's ad buyers looked into the DCCC's purchases, and spokesman Jonathan Collegio shared the minuscule results with reporters.
"For the DCCC's next major initiative, we hear they plan to hand out balloons and refrigerator magnets in northwestern Pennsylvania," he joked. "Recipients have to supply their own helium, though, and are expected to contribute $25 for the experience."