Talk to any liberal and he'll eagerly tell you about how awful Republicans use gobs of outside money to buy elections -- and that they spend a lot of that dirty cash to run gutter campaigns, featuring relentlessly negative, fear-mongering attack ads. As we reported in late September, though, Democrats are once again massively outspending the GOP this cycle, including among those deep-pocketed 'outside groups' they pretend to hate. The New York Times follows up with additional details:
With the battle for the Senate tilting toward Republicans and President Obama’s approval ratings hovering near his all-time low, Democrats are more reliant than they have ever been on the very kind of big-money groups they have spent years trying to outlaw. They are countering the Republican Party’s expansive and formidable outside spending network this fall with a smaller but more tightly knit alliance of groups that share donors, closely coordinate their advertising and hit harder than their conservative counterparts. To hold the Senate, the Democratic outside spending network is working hand in hand with — and is funded by — the party’s traditional ideological allies, including abortion rights organizations, environmentalists and labor unions. They have overlapping board memberships, use the same voter data and even share advertising content. Most of their on-air money is being spent through a small cluster of “super PACs,” which can explicitly advocate the election or defeat of specific candidates.
Click through for one paragraph buried deep within the piece on the shadowy 'Democracy Alliance,' a secretive and powerful network of left-wing interests that does exactly what Democrats accuse the Koch brothers of doing. WFB reporter Lachlan Markay has done a tremendous amount of work on this subject, which strangely attracts far less attention from mainstream media than the Kochs. Meanwhile, Democrats' campaign committees (DCCC, DSCC) have been clobbering their Republican counterparts in fundraising (though the NRSC just had a record month). The UK Guardian noted over the summer that Democratic campaigns in ten crucial Senate races have also been beating Republicans badly in the money race. I'll repeat: Democrats love 'money in politics,' so long as its their own. Democrats are far ahead of Republicans on another count this election year, too: Negativity. The Wall Street Journal reports:
The race for control of the Senate in this year’s election is big, expensive, important—and negative. And the most negative so far are those with the most to lose...Democratic groups, fighting to defend more Senate seats and keep control of the chamber, have been more negative than their Republican counterparts, that independent analysis shows... In that early September period, for example, 70.5% of ads run on behalf of Democrats from all sources were rated as negative, while 39.3% of those run on behalf of Republicans were negative. Among outside groups, 91.4% of ads backing Democrats were negative, while the figure was 77.9% among groups backing Republicans. Similarly, in the period between Sept. 12 and Sept. 25, the Wesleyan analysis found that just under 40% of negative ads aired directly by Democratic candidates themselves attacked the personal characteristics of their Republican opponents, while all negative campaign ads from Republicans focused on policy fights.
The Left is blitzing Republicans with negative, personal attacks; Republicans' so-called "contrast" responses have been less frequent, and policy-focused. Phil Kerpen thinks this is a tactical mistake:
Really stupid lack of negative ads from the right. https://t.co/mIUUQgUD3V— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) October 7, 2014
His point is that while Americans claim to deplore negative campaigning, attacks work. Democrats generally operate secure in the knowledge that they'll face far less blowback from the press for nasty ads than Republicans, but they've crossed certain lines this year in damaging ways (Mark Pryor's Ebola ad makes his cringe-worthy answer on the issue all the more delicious. And by the way, it's not like the GOP and its backers are unilaterally surrendering on this stuff. New this week:
Democrats' pipeline of high-dollar sludge still isn't doing a damn thing to improve voters' opinions on the leader of their party: "Despite an improving economy and the lowest unemployment rate in six years, Americans' views of President Barack Obama's economic leadership stands at the lowest level of his presidency, according to the latest CNBC All-America Economic survey."