The Dems’ Problem

DCCC Ad “Failure”

While recent polling numbers are improving for Democrats or their allies in a number of key Senate races (North Carolina, Colorado, Louisiana, and Kansas), a look at the party’s new ad buy in congressional races capsulizes their plight in the House.

While Republicans announced electronic ad waves yesterday in districts that, by and large, take an aggressive position against Democratic incumbents, the Dems commensurate media purchase is almost entirely defensive. Having to shore up weak incumbents while simultaneously failing to find enough vulnerable Republican members, the mathematics simply don’t allow a legitimate aggregate Democratic opportunity to capture the House majority.

Yesterday’s announced targets consisted of five districts, four of which are already Democratic seats. In the new targeted races, all of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s ads attack the Republican challenger. This is unusual because party independent expenditure money is not normally used to attack in what should be considered second-tier House challengers of the opposite party.

NH-2 – Marilinda Garcia / Rep. Annie Kuster

The Dem ad messages begin with a personal attack against California state Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R), challenging freshman Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA-26) who internal Democratic polls suggest the Ventura County campaign is already an even race; hit candidate Mark Greenberg, opposing freshman Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT-5), on comments made about Social Security; and isolate New Hampshire state Rep. Marilinda Garcia and New York former District Attorney John Katko on abortion and contraception related issues. Garcia is challenging Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH-2), while Katko attempts to unseat Rep. Dan Maffei (D-NY-24). The fifth Democratic ad, the only offensive spot of the group, targets Republican incumbent Lee Terry (R-NE-2).

Republicans, on the other hand, are on offense in seven of the nine new districts in which they announced a media plan. The only defensive GOP ads are for representatives Steve Southerland (R-FL-2) and Mike Coffman (R-CO-6), both of whom are in tough fights for re-election.

The seven challengers receiving major National Republican Congressional Committee independent expenditure support are Arizona candidates Andy Tobin (R-AZ-1; Ann Kirkpatrick), Martha McSally (R-AZ-2; Ron Barber), ex-Rep. Doug Ose (R-CA-7; Ami Bera), Rick Allen (R-GA-12; John Barrow), Torrey Westrom (R-MN-7; Collin Peterson), Lee Zeldin (R-NY-1; Tim Bishop), and Evan Jenkins (R-WV-3; Nick Rahall).
NRCC – Obama & Pelosi

While the theme of the Democratic attack ads typically relates to claims that Republicans will cut Social Security and add more restrictions surrounding social issues, the Republican scripts generally tie the Democratic incumbent to President Obama and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Rep. Barber is hit on immigration; Barrow on abortion; while personal attacks are centered on representatives Peterson, Bishop, and Rahall.

Despite what has been the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s consistent advantage in party fundraising, a surprising development for a minority party with little chance to change their status in the upcoming election, the latest ad schedule suggests that the party is now looking to protect its entire incumbent base rather than exclusively running an aggregate offensive. The developments underscore, irrespective of the Senate outcome, that the GOP will likely gain several seats in this year’s House races.

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