The Washington Post reports that conservative interest groups have “dumped” well over $20 million into congressional races so far this year, outspending their liberal opponents 4 to 1 (do lefty PACs dump money too, or do they distribute it?). Part of this phenomenon can be explained by the money attracted by high profile Republican Senate primary races. Reportedly, primary races in Indiana and Texas alone brought in around $4 million of conservative money each.
Even so, the Post detects “a growing panic among Democrats struggling to regain the House and hold on to their slim majority in the Senate.” In response, says the Post, leading Democrats, including Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, have stepped up their fundraising efforts in recent months on behalf of liberal-leaning super PACs, which can raise unlimited money but have fallen far short of matching their conservative opponents.
My guess is that Democrats will be decidedly outspent in House races. Despite brave talk, there is little chance that the Dems can win back the House, and so money will be relatively hard to come by in the races that, in theory, might flip the House.
We’ve already seen the national Dems turn down requests for money with which to unseat Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in a super high-profile contest, due to the inability of Walker’s challenger to show well in polls. Desperate to hold the White House and cling to their Senate majority, the Democrats can’t spend large sums on probable losers. Neither, presumably, will the liberal PACs.
This may bode badly as well for Senate candidates like Bob Kerrey in Nebraska and Joe Donnelly in Indiana. Both may have a shot of winning in their conservative states, but it is a fairly long shot. Expect the Dems and the liberal PACs to focus on holding seats in Virginia, Missouri, and Montana, and on helping Elizabeth Warren in the very Blue state of Massachusetts (assuming, as I do, that she won’t be laughed out of it).
Overall the lesson for Democratic congressional candidates who need help may be this: the polls had better show that you don’t need very much help.