KDS stands for “Koch Derangement Syndrome,” and it is known to cause politicians to engage in all manner of self-flagellation, most especially Harry Reid. There are two stories out today suggesting Reid is going to want to punch himself in the mirror even harder than he did at Christmas following the Dems’ 2014 midterm wipeout.
The Washington Times reports today that Democratic Party strategists have concluded that their Koch obsession backfired:
Democratic officials are second-guessing the party’s obsession with attacking the Koch brothers, saying it bears some of the blame for last year’s devastating election losses as the focus on the conservative billionaires diluted a party message already struggling for clarity.
Doubts about the relentless attacks on the Koch brothers surfaced as the Democratic National Committee held its annual meeting Thursday in Washington, where state party officials from across the country mulled what went wrong in 2014. . .
“It raises money for sure. But is it good to motivate a voter? No,” said a state party executive director who said he didn’t want to publicly criticize the national party leaders.
On the other hand, political scientist Alan Abramowitz of Emory University, a very smart liberal I know slightly, has crunched the numbers and concluded that the Kochs’ spending had little or no effect on the 2014 midterm, at least in the Senate races, and looking ahead doubts that the Kochs’ 2016 proposed war chest of close to $900 million will have a significant effect on the outcome. In fact, Democrats had an outside money advantage in seven of the Senate seats they lost:
Republicans made major gains in the 2014 Senate elections but the findings reported here indicate that outside spending by conservative groups had little or nothing to do with those gains. The main reason why Republicans did very well in 2014 was that Democrats were defending far more seats than Republicans and many of those seats were in states that normally favor Republicans based on recent presidential voting patterns. Democrats lost all seven of their seats in states carried by Mitt Romney in 2012 even though Democratic candidates enjoyed an advantage in outside spending in several of those races.
Like all good liberals Abramowitz is fully outraged by Citizens United, but good for him for following his numbers, which are usually pretty good in other forecasting and analytical models he’s developed over the years. (Right now, incidentally, his presidential prediction model shows a pro-GOP popular vote tilt for 2016 based on general conditions.) His findings on outside campaign spending also fit with my casual thesis that the massive amounts of TV ad spending in closely contested states long ago reached the point of saturation and diminishing returns. I have no empirical proof of this, but my hunch is the next great campaign breakthrough will be figuring out a more effective way to spend campaign cash on something other than 30-second TV spots. (Perhaps this has already been done with the extensive data mining operations now under way, of which one of the best has reportedly been developed by . . . the Kochs. Heh.)
But either way, these two findings together are really ruining the weekend for all the Koch-heads on the Left.