To: The Fourth Estate
From: Brian Walsh, NRSC Communications Director
RE: Your Background Guide to Today’s DSCC Pen-And-Pad
As some of you prepare to head over to 122 Maryland Ave NE this morning to hear the latest chest-beating and breathless spin from our friends at the DSCC, we wanted to offer a few background thoughts for your consideration.
First off, let me save you the trouble of even making the trip this morning. Take an early nap, go for a run or watch last night’s Olympics on your DVR – spoiler alert, we won the gold in women’s gymnastics – because we can already tell you exactly what’s in the talking points typed up by Senator Schumer’s office.
So here we go….are you ready? What you will hear from Senator Murray this morning….[list type="arrow"] [li]
- First, [insert ANY Republican candidate’s name here] is an extreme Tea Party conservative who wants to kill Medicare and take away seniors’ Social Security checks and give them to their millionaire and billionaire and oil company friends;
- Second, “bloody” Republican primaries across the country are “bloodying up” these extreme Republican candidates who, when they’re not trying to kill Medicare, are spending millions of dollars attacking each other which will help Democrats in November;
- Third, Democratic incumbents across the country have built tremendous fundraising advantages and their outsized financial resources will help them to win in November;
- And lastly fourth and fifth, because of successful recruiting and strong candidates, Democrats have expanded the playing field and made it virtually impossible to win back the Senate. Similarly, weak Republican candidates have allowed Democrats to capitalize on their missteps which will also prevent Republicans from winning back the Senate.
Got all that? Heck, we’ve pretty much written the story for you.
But hold on…..there’s one big problem. Well, two of them, at least. Because the reality is that facts and political history render that spin virtually meaningless.
Let’s start from the end of that list and work our way back – Strong Democrats/Weak Republicans = no chance of Republicans winning the Senate.
So then how does the DSCC explain the fact that as of today, they are already spending, or preparing to spend, significant financial resources in at least nine – count that, NINE – Democratic-held Senate seats? And that number could still grow before the end of October when you consider that Linda Lingle is running a formidable campaign in Hawaii, a recent Quinnipiac poll has a three-point race in Connecticut, Tom Smith is putting his war chest to work with great statewide ads in Pennsylvania and State Senator Joe Kyrillos is running a strong campaign in New Jersey where every poll has shown Bob Menendez consistently under the 50% mark.
But I digress – nine seats, so far, just on defense, that they are spending tens of millions of dollars – North Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, Montana, Virginia, Ohio, Florida, New Mexico, and Wisconsin.
And remember that for months now, the DSCC has relentlessly professed to be unconcerned with races like Ohio, Florida and New Mexico, while scoffing at the Republican campaigns in those states. Yet in just those three states alone, we’ve learned over the last few days that the DSCC is now committing upwards of $10 million just to try and save those three Democratic candidates.
And guess where the DSCC hasn’t yet reserved fall TV time yet? Despite the fact that you’ll again hear them today telling you how they’re going to win there – Arizona and Indiana. As we said more than a year ago, just take your stories from Indiana last cycle and switch out Brad Ellsworth for Joe Donnelly. It will save you a lot of time and energy rewriting them.
Actually, come to think of it the DSCC hasn’t reserved any fall air time in Nebraska either. Does anyone know if Bob Kerrey is aware of that? The majority of the almost $2 million the DSCC has poured into that state so far was in a failed effort to bolster Ben Nelson before he decided to retire last year.
But speaking of states the DSCC hasn’t reserved air time in yet, you might consider asking Senator Murray if she’ll ever finally acknowledge that there is a Democratic Senate nominee in Maine. Hint, she’s the one who generated this headline in the Bangor Daily News last week – Cynthia Dill calls out DC Democrats for not supporting her candidacy.
A word of warning though – if you do ask the DSCC Chair why they’re not supporting their female candidate in Maine be prepared that it could get really awkward because you might remember the headlines from the last time she held a pen-and pad back in December. Here’s another hint – DSCC Chair: 2012 Could Be Historic Year for Women.
Apparently that spin only applies when it’s convenient though – sort of like another DSCC pen-and-pad last year when they unveiled – and then quickly tossed aside – their “6 in 12” campaign slogan, predicting Texas would be a pick-up opportunity for Senate Democrats. Does Senator Murray even know who her Democratic nominee is in Texas?
Again, I digress – back to the Democrat’s defensive spending spree. So what happened? How do they possibly square their spin with the reality that all of us can see today?
And the excuse you’ll hear of course is that they were already facing a difficult map, they were hit with a slew of retirements, yadda, yadda, yadda. Well, wait a second, in 2009 Senate Republicans faced that exact same situation with a tough map and GOP retirements in New Hampshire, Ohio, Missouri, Florida, Kansas, and Kentucky in addition to a party switcher in Pennsylvania. Yet, come the fall of 2010, the NRSC, under Senator Cornyn’s leadership, ultimately never had to spend dime on independent expenditure ads in those first five states, and in the sixth, Rand Paul won by over 11 points. In fact, the vast majority of the NRSC’s money was devoted to offense.
The point is that is not the situation facing the DSCC today.
Senate Republicans, not the Democrats, have quietly expanded the landscape of competitive Senate races and the proof is in the DSCC’s own spending.
The second piece of spin you’ll hear today – which many of you have already heard ad nauseum in recent months – is how the Democrats’ cash advantage has bolstered their ability to hold the majority. And look no one discounts the importance of money – all of us would like to have more of it than less. But even a cursory review of the last three election cycles shows that cash-on-hand is a notoriously awful predictor of what might happen in November.
Remarkably, no one knows that better than the Senate Democrats running for re-election this year. At this point in 2006, just in Missouri, Montana, Virginia, and Ohio alone, the Republican incumbents in those four states had a collective cash advantage of over $16 million. All went on to lose in November.
We saw a similar situation in 2008 when Republicans Gordon Smith, Elizabeth Dole, Norm Coleman and John Sununu had a collective cash advantage of over $11 million. All went on to lose in November.
And in 2010, Republican candidates were outraised in New Hampshire, Kentucky and Arkansas, and all went on to win in November.
Put simply, let’s hope Senator Murray and her candidates aren’t putting much stock in their own spin today.
Third, those “bloody” Republican primaries – an old standby talking point for the DSCC. Let’s just remember we’ve heard it all before….
- Democrats insist they have a fighting chance. The GOP primary will be so brutal and divisive, they say, that whoever emerges as the nominee will be weakened. “The Republican primary in the state has become a proxy war between Mitch McConnell’s ethically challenged candidate Jon Bruning and Jim DeMint’s tea partier Don Stenberg, which will provide an opportunity for Democrats to remain competitive,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Matt Canter in a statement. (RealClearPolitics, 2/7/2012)
Let’s also not forget that in 2010, Kelly Ayotte barely edged out Ovide Lamontagne in a divisive and late mid-September primary, and yet six weeks later went on to crush Democratic Congressman Paul Hodes by almost 20 points.
Primaries are only a serious issue when/if the candidate nominated is not capable of winning the general election, and there is not a single race where that is the case this cycle. Surely Senator Murray might agree considering the increasingly ugly primary facing the Democrats in Hawaii.
Finally, when it comes to the issue matrix it doesn’t take a policy or political expert to understand the problem facing every Democratic candidate, and particularly the incumbents running for re-election. When this class of Democratic Senators took office in January 2007, the national unemployment rate was 4.6% and the debt stood at $8.6 trillion. And even then every one of them campaigned on a platform of fiscal responsibility, balanced budgets and pro-jobs policies. Witness just a few examples….
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- Tester: “Because I Am Of The Belief That You Take Care Of Your Own Self And You Don’t Pass Your Debts On To Your Kids. We’re Passing An Incredible Debt On To Our Kids . . . That’s Not Right. Let’s Be Fiscally Responsible. Let’s Have A Fiscally Balanced Budget.”
- Brown: “I Stood Up To A President Of My Own Party . . . In Support Of The Balance Budget Amendment, In Restoring Fiscal Sanity To Our Government. I agree with Senator Voinovich that Mike DeWine and others have betrayed conservative principles of limited government.”
- Casey: “I Believe In A Balanced Budget. Government Should Live Within Its Means, Like Any Small Business.”
- Nelson: “[I] Was An Early Advocate Of A Balance Budget.”
Fast forward six years later and that rhetoric is coming back to haunt them this Fall. Under the leadership of these same Democrats, we’ve now had 41 straight months of unemployment above 8 percent and a debt that is now approaching almost $16 trillion. There are over 5.5 million more unemployed Americans today than in January 2007 and remarkably, Senate Democrats have refused to pass – let alone, introduce – a federal budget in over three years.
Yet, instead of learning, listening and recalibrating their agenda after their disastrous 2010 election, Senate Democrats have actually doubled down on it. Just last week Senate Democratic leaders put every Democratic incumbent on the record supporting a massive tax increase on virtually every small business owner in their state. And this is on top of years of votes in support of reckless deficit spending, bigger government, more government regulations and $500 billion in cuts to Medicare.
But yet Patty Murray and Senate Democratic strategists will hold another pen-and-pad this morning and insist that they are in an overwhelming position to hold the Senate majority this November. We wish them luck in selling that spin, but don’t be surprised if the scene inside DSCC headquarters resembles something like this in late October.0 Recommend This