Democrats are becoming more and more vocal in expressing to their donor base the need to pony up funds to outside spending groups — the same third-party groups that still make many Democratic supporters cringe. On Tuesday, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee became the latest to tell Democrats to hold their nose and send money — fast.
“June, July and August are a critical time,” Guy Cecil, executive director of the DSCC, told TPM. “We need our side to wake up.”
Big spending from outside groups has changed the dynamics of the battle for control of the Senate, Cecil said, and that means Democrats can’t focus solely on grassroots operations, or drag their feet until the waning days of the election to donate. They need the kind of big bucks that pays for TV ads, and they need them soon. The DSCC says it is proud of the cash it has raised so far for its candidates — but the group is also freely admitting that without the help of outside spending like the ones swooping into races across the country on behalf of Republican candidates, they won’t be able to capitalize on their candidates’ fundraising successes.
So far, Democrats have been reticent to open their wallets for the kind of outside spending groups Republicans are increasingly relying on to bombard the airwaves with television commercials. Democrats have their own super PACs running ads, but by and large they’re being dramatically outspent by their Republican-supporting rivals.
That’s to be expected, say Democrats, given the GOP’s fundraising base and the party’s visceral anti-Obama sentiment (top Republican donors view any vote for a Republican candidate as a vote against Obama, and Republican-leaning groups are able to tap into a fired-up base as a result).
The DSCC says it doesn’t need to achieve parity with the GOP groups to stay competitive. But the disadvantage needs to be smaller than 4-to-1, which is where the Democrats peg the current margin.
Republican-allied groups like 60 Plus, the Karl Rove-founded American Crossroads and the Chamber of Commerce have spent $36 million in Senate races already. Democratic-supporting groups have spent closer to $12 million, and $3 million of that was spent in Massachusetts before Democratic nominee Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Scott Brown (R) voluntarily agreed to keep third-party money out of the race.
The DSCC said Democrats need between $40 million and $50 million in outside money to fight back against the ad campaigns already coming their way.
The DSCC is just the latest Democratic group to urge donors to put their hesitations aside and write checks to the big outside spending groups. After the Wisconsin recall renewed fears about the power of outside spending, Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), chairman of the House campaign arm of the Democratic Party, called on Democratic donors to stop focusing their money on ground game operations (as some Democratic-allied groups like labor have done) and instead put more money into funding TV airtime through donations to outside groups.
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