Post-election spinnage

The Washington Times editorial board must've gotten spun pretty hard by 2006 NRSC Chairwoman Elizabeth Dole.

More than 50 days after Democrats defeated six Republican incumbents to capture a de facto 51-49 majority in the Senate . . . when numerous Republican senators ignored calls to transfer a portion of their own bulging war chests to a handful of pivotal states.


Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison won her 2006 election (62-36) and finished her campaign with $7.3 million in the bank. All she gave the NRSC was a $115,000 donation. Fellow Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who had $2.8 million in the bank on Sept. 30 in preparation for his likely cakewalk in 2008, gave the NRSC $50,000 in 2006.


In the end, Mr. Talent lost in Missouri by fewer than 50,000 votes among the more than two million cast (49.6 percent to 47.3 percent); Mr. Allen lost in Virginia by fewer than 10,000 votes among the nearly 2.5 million cast (49.6-49.2); and Mr. Burns lost by fewer than 3,000 votes among the nearly 400,000 cast (49.1-48.4).

I've got a few problems with this.

1. The NRSC did not do a good job this election cycle. It didn't raise enough money, failed to recruit good candidates in a few races ( Florida anyone?), and then wasted money. For an example of the latter, see the horribly misleading ads they ran against Steve Laffey. While I would've likely voted for Chafee since Laffey had no chance to win, some of those ads were thoroughly inexcusable.

2. Senators are accountable to their donors. If I'd given money to a senator, and he/she turned around and sent too much to the NRSC, it'd be the last dollar of my money they'd ever get. People raise money for their own careers and for future races. They shouldn't get overly pressured into giving it away to people who should've raised more money.

3. Spending more money wouldn't necessarily have helped. The law of diminishing returns definitely kicks in. The TV markets were probably so saturated in Missouri, Virginia, and especially Montana that I doubt any more NRSC ads would've been the proximal factor in changing election results. Besides, good campaigns (Virginia and Montana would not qualify) have closing strategies which can get sidetracked by outside ads.

What is also amusing about the WashTimes op-ed is that it specifically lauds Thad Cochran of Mississippi for giving $225k -- only $110k more than Hutchison -- because he didn't have much cash on hand. Well, WashTimes editorial board, riddle me this: why wasn't Senator Cochran out raising money to help his colleagues? He's the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee! Chairman. Of. Appropriations. Raise some money, Senator, if you want to stay one of the most powerful people inside the Beltway.

So, given that Hutchison was actually up for re-election, it seems to me that Senator Cochran should be more of a target for criticism than Senator Hutchison.

Posted by Evan @ 01/02/07 06:27 PM


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