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Red Wave? Democrats Forced to Abandon Key House Races

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

With barely more than one month remaining until the midterm elections, the leading entities tasked with helping Democrats win and retain seats in the House of Representatives say they are running out of money and scrambling to decide which Democrats get the remaining cash available to try and dampen the expected red wave heading for Speaker Nancy Pelosi's gavel. 


Whining to The Washington Post, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Executive Director Tim Persico said there "are places that I don’t know if we are going to be able to get to" in order to help Democrats. "We are just getting outspent everywhere, so it is just a question of how much can we withstand."

That makes the DCCC one of several groups WaPo said Friday morning were discovering they "lack the funds needed to fully contest all of their potentially winnable House races this cycle," leading to "tough decisions about where to spend on television ads" as Democrats get outspent by GOP groups.

"The relative shortfall in outside spending is likely to leave some Democratic incumbents in contested races at sharp advertising disadvantages, while restricting the party’s ability to compete in open seats or to unseat Republican incumbents," concluded The Post based on conversations with Dem groups.

This takeaway from the DCCC and other Dem funding operatives is in direct conflict with what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this week on an episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. With seemingly delusional overconfidence, Pelosi declared that Democrats "will hold the winning more seats." Perhaps Pelosi should have checked with the people actually running her party and trying to fund House campaigns before making what are almost sure to be broken promises.

The Post's reporting outlines the Democrats' money problems:

Democrats pointed to a TV ad spending advantage by Republican outside groups, which have the flexibility to move money around the House landscape strategically in the final weeks. That edge has become more alarming as a recent shift in the national mood has put more seats in contention for Democrats, who find themselves hamstrung by the Republican advantage in donors on the GOP side.

Another House Democratic strategist said the inability to fully fund key races could prove to be the difference between winning and losing control of Congress, or between keeping Republicans to a five-seat majority and a 15-seat majority. “I don’t think it is hyperbole to say at this point that money is going to make the difference,” said this person, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk more freely about strategy.


Warning that they're out of money in the final stretch of the midterm cycle — and pointing to ad buy data showing that "some long-held Democratic seats are no longer being contested by national Democratic groups at comparable levels to Republican groups" — is something of a fundraising scheme itself. The hope is that Chicken Little sky-is-falling doom can have the effect of shaking more money out of Democrats across the country to bolster the party's late-in-the-game efforts to stem losses and make the GOP spend more defending their incumbents. 

The Post's reporting also points out that House Democrats were bad at predicting their party's performance in the 2020 election, based on overconfidence that, if not remedied in the last two years, could prove problematic again:

Democratic strategists have also struggled all year to calibrate how much faith to put in their internal numbers, which failed to detect Republican gains in the 2020 elections. Democrats thought they could not lose more than three seats in a worst-case scenario in that cycle, according to one person involved. They lost 13, even as Biden beat Donald Trump by 7 million votes nationwide.

That means there's also a blame-game at play here in the midterm cycle. The Washington Post is a good place for Democrats set to take heat — either for failing to protect incumbents or keep the GOP from gaining a significant majority — to begin setting the table to avoid accountability for Democrat losses and the consequences of what is shaping up to be a strong Republican majority in the next Congress. 


It's far less painful for Democrats to say they simply couldn't compete and lost races due to a lack of money — thereby passing the buck (heh) down to donors and away from the party leaders and national funding groups — then admitting Democrat policies destroyed the American economy and the party couldn't spin away the pain Americans felt due to inflation, soaring crime, or several other crises that remain at the top of voters' minds. 

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