with Ron Nehring
by Ron Nehring
Democrats have repeatedly crushed “self-funding” Republican candidates at the ballot box, making now a good time to ask why our party appears to go out of its way to run wealthy candidates who fund their own campaigns, and better understand how these candidates fare on Election Day.
It’s been said that the road to political oblivion is lined with the remains of self-funding candidates. President Steve Forbes, Governors Meg Whitman and Al Cheechi can each attest to how their wealth was insufficient to prevent Election Day wipeouts.
Why does our party seem to have such a bias in favor of rich candidates who can fund their own campaigns? I count four major factors at work.
by Ron Nehring
It turns out that not all political fundraising is the same, and the failure to understand the differences can cost a political party substantial donor support.
At last month’s International School of Fundraising in London I was asked to present on a very specific topic: what’s the difference between political party and candidate fundraising, and why does it matter? The difference is often not well understood, but the impact on the bottom line can be enormous.
Political parties and candidates are closely related – they’re both focused on elections, staff move back and forth, and there’s a level of mutual influence. But where fundraising is concerned, the similarity ends there.
Every candidate campaign is a startup: it’s formed, it wages a campaign focused on getting one person past the post on Election Day, and then it shuts down. By contrast, political parties are ongoing concerns. The party has bills to pay in December while the candidates have moved on elsewhere.
President Obama’s strategy is clear: focus on winning control of the House for Democrats so he can have the unified control of government he needs to write his legacy in his final two years, as he did in his first.
Republicans today hold a 17 seat House majority, and a review of how House races are shaping up suggests the President is unlikely to get his wish.
To return Nancy Pelosi to the Speaker’s Chair requires a switch of 17 seats in addition to Democrats holding every seat they now occupy, including several in California they barely took from the GOP in 2012. That’s an extraordinarily steep hill to climb.
by Ron Nehring
Political candidates and party officials rarely choose campaign themes purely out of philosophical interests. In the midst of a contested election, campaigns invest heavily in researching and testing messages to gain maximum advantage at the expense of the opposition.
The Democrats’ 2012 “war on women” theme used against Republicans was not chosen by accident or merely out of a desire to satisfy feminists in the Democrat Party leadership. It was a deliberate choice to maximize the Democrats’ advantage among women while exploiting a glaring vulnerability among Republicans, whose traditional support for life and religious liberty is often cast as “anti-women.”
Republican candidates and activists can complain about how this theme was “unfair,” but while our team was complaining, Barack Obama racked up the biggest gender advantage in Presidential contests going back at least to 1952. While Mitt Romney won among men by 8 points, Obama won among women by 12.
The “war on women” theme was rooted in Republican policy positions, and bound together House Republican opposition to Obamacare mandates that religious employers pay for contraception coverage, efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, and state-level efforts to restrict abortion. The “war on women” theme might not have made it much beyond the Beltway press but for a series of “unforced errors” committed by high profile Republican Senate candidates. Rep. Todd Akin (R) in his campaign to unseat unpopular incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) clumsily attempted to make the (false) argument that in the cases of rape, a woman can’t conceive. Attempting to describe cases of actual rape, Akin famously used the term “legitimate rape,” providing the kind of soundbite that campaign operatives dream their opponents will provide.