The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

‘ActBlue Is Killing Us’

Posted on | November 3, 2018 | Comments Off on ‘ActBlue Is Killing Us’

Last night, a Republican source here explained to me how the Democrats’ fundraising advantage in the midterm campaign is creating nightmares for GOP House candidates trying to resist the “blue wave.”

“ActBlue is killing us,” the source said, referring to the online fundraising tool that “bundles” small contributions for Democrat candidates. “Normally, the incumbent has the money advantage, but this year you have the Republican with $1 million and suddenly out of nowhere his Democrat opponent has $3 million. It’s very tough for us.”

This is essentially a reversal of the situation in 2010, when the grassroots activism of the Tea Party enabled Republicans to recapture the House in a landslide (see “The Republican Mandate,” Nov. 24, 2010). In the immediate aftermath of Trump’s 2016 election, the backlash frightened a lot of House Republicans into announcing their retirements. Trump’s unfavorable poll numbers in 2017 made it seem GOP congressmen would have difficulty being re-elected, so there was a wave of retirements and Republicans had difficulty recruiting candidates. Meanwhile, Democrats were building up a huge money advantage, and the ActBlue program helped “progressive” candidates to prevail in Democrat primaries.

Ironically, of course, by summer of this year, with the economy roaring at unprecedented levels, Trump’s poll numbers improved and the situation for Republicans in the midterms looked more favorable. So if some of those GOP House members had decided to stick around instead of retiring, their re-election might have been easy. As it is, however, the GOP must fight to hold on in “open” races without the advantages of incumbency, with newcomer candidates with little name recognition in their districts, and Democrats pouring money into the key races at levels unheard of in any previous midterm cycle. In the FEC reporting quartet that ended Sept. 30, Democrats piled up a huge cash advantage:

The Democrats’ campaign arm says 110 House Democratic candidates outraised Republican incumbents or the GOP nominees in open seats. At least 60 Democrats topped $1 million in fundraising during the quarter, according to a party analysis, with several posting eye-popping hauls in excess of $2 million and even $3 million.

Imagine a House Republican candidate facing a Democrat opponent who is raising money at the pace of a million dollars a month on average. According to Mother Jones, ActBlue has “directed more than $1 billion to Democratic candidates this cycle.” One billion dollars.

Question: While Paul Ryan and other GOP leaders were pouting over Trump’s election, what were they doing to help elect Republicans to Congress? What did they do to help counter the Democrats’ billion-dollar online money machine? Isn’t it fair for conservative voters to suspect that Ryan and other members of the Republican establishment essentially decided to take their ball and go home, because they were butthurt that their favorite candidates didn’t win the GOP nomination? 

Well, it’s still possible — just barely, a longshot — that a strong turnout by Republican voters can hold off the “blue wave” Tuesday. But we wouldn’t have been in this desperate coffin-corner situation if GOP leaders had not been so childish, so selfish and so cowardly. Pray for a miracle.

UPDATE: Some of the comments would seem to suggest that my authorial purpose has been misunderstood. My first purpose, of course, was to inform the reader of what my source told me, i.e., how the midterm campaign looks from the perspective of someone “inside” (how far inside, I am not at liberty to divulge). I think most armchair conservative observers of this campaign, following it via Fox News or Drudge headlines or whatever, do not recognize (a) how large a money advantage Democrats enjoy, (b) the role that ActBlue plays in creating this advantage, or (c) how unprecedented this actually is. Yes, ActBlue has been around since 2004, and played a role in the Democrats’ win in the 2006 midterms, but this year the Democrat small-donor effort has surpassed all previous metrics. It’s Godzilla stomping Tokyo.

Second, while I still hope for a Tuesday surprise (more on that later), most analysts agree that a Democrat takeover of the House is likely and we (i.e., conservative communicators) have to prepare to explain why this happened. You know doggone well that the liberal media and the #NeverTrump crowd would explain a Democrat victory as a negative verdict on Trump, and what I’m telling you about the money situation is a counter-argument to such claims. That is to say, if Democrats are outspending Republicans in so many districts (and sometimes 3-to-1), the money factor alone creates enough of an advantage for Democrats that trying to blame an anti-Trump backlash is foolish.

The larger problem, as I have indicated, is that many influential Republicans were dismayed by Trump’s winning the GOP nomination in 2016. So when the anti-Trump protests erupted in early 2017, and polls showed Trump was deeply unpopular, these Republicans retreated to the sidelines and sulked, thinking that Trump was destined to fail, and wishing to distance themselves from that failure. What happened instead, of course, was that Trump’s policies succeeded, with the result that his popularity rebounded; however, by the time this became evident as a fact, it was too late for the GOP to build a fundraising effort that could match what the Democrats are bringing to the midterm campaign.

If it had not been for the take-my-ball-and-go-home tantrums of the #NeverTrump crowd, how much more hopeful might the situation be for congressional Republicans now? So if the GOP loses on Tuesday, don’t blame Trump — blame #NeverTrump Republicans.

Ah! But winners don’t need blame, do they?

Go to church Sunday and pray hard, folks, because there might yet be a miracle. On Friday, Rasmussen Reports published this:

Is Another Silent Red Wave Coming?
Just as in 2016, Democrats are more outspoken about how they’re going to vote in the upcoming elections than Republicans and unaffiliated voters are.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 60% of Likely Democratic Voters say they are more likely to let others know how they intend to vote this year compared to previous congressional elections. This compares to 49% of Republicans and 40% of voters not affiliated with either major political party. . . .
n August 2016, 52% of Democrats were more likely to let others know how they intended to vote in the upcoming presidential election, compared to 46% of Republicans and 34% of unaffiliated voters. Some analysts before and after Donald Trump’s upset victory suggested that most pollsters missed his hidden support among voters fearful of criticism who were unwilling to say where they stood.
Similarly when asked now about family, friends and co-workers, 60% of Democrats say they are also more likely to tell others how they intend to vote, but only 46% of Republicans and 45% of unaffiliated voters agree. . . . .

Read the rest of that. The point is that these “silent” Republican voters might be evading pollsters in such a way as to completely skew the results of public polls, and thus deliver a surprise on Tuesday.



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