Democrats Still Have the Cash Advantage

Posted September 21, 2007 at 6:25pm

The Democratic Congressional campaign committees in August maintained a robust cash advantage over their GOP counterparts, although the National Republican Senatorial Committee just missed matching the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in money raised for the month.

Through Aug. 31, the NRSC still trailed the DSCC by a nearly 3-to-1 margin in cash on hand, $20.6 million to $7.1 million. But for the month of August, the NRSC kept pace with the DSCC, raising $2.4 million, compared with the DSCC’s $2.6 million. When the DSCC’s $3.5 million debt is accounted for — the NRSC reported zero debt — its cash lead over its Republican counterpart drops to $10 million.

“We are well aware of the obstacles of not being in the majority party when it comes to fundraising. But our re-energized base has helped us not only raise the same amount as the Democrats this month, but net more money for the last two months,” NRSC spokeswoman Rebecca Fisher said. “This momentum will only increase as the races heat up.”

Fisher was referring to the period June 30 through Aug. 31, when the NRSC increased its total cash on hand by $1.4 million. During the same time, the DSCC increased the amount of money it had in the bank by a net $285,162.

Ironically, the NRSC this August reported numbers similar to August 2005, when Republicans were still in the majority and their political prognosis looked much stronger than it does today. Two years ago, the NRSC had receipts of $1.9 million in August and cash on hand totaling $8.2 million.

The DSCC noted that Democratic Senate candidates remain in an overwhelmingly superior financial position than their Republican counterparts thanks to the committee’s efforts. The DSCC has raised $36.7 million for the cycle thus far, putting it not only well ahead of the $20.5 million the NRSC has raised this cycle, but remarkably in front of the $25 million the GOP committee had raised at this point in 2005.

This financial edge could cause Republicans problems next year, as they seek to defend 22 Senate seats — including four in Democratic leaning states and a growing list of potentially vulnerable seats that have opened due to retirement — to just 12 for the Democrats.

“We’re pleased that we have continued to build our cash-on-hand advantage while also expanding the number of seats they have to defend,” DSCC spokesman Matthew Miller said. “We are in a better financial position than we were at this point in the 2006 cycle and they are in a worse financial position than they were at the same point.”

On the House side, the disparity in fundraising between the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee nine months into the cycle serves as one of the most noticeable reminders of the power shift that occurred on Capitol Hill in November 2006.

Before Democrats regained control of Congress, the NRCC consistently outmuscled the DCCC on the financial front. But by the end of August, the DCCC had built a nearly 14-1 lead in cash on hand over the NRCC.

The DCCC in August reported receipts of $3.5 million and cash on hand totaling $22.1 million, compared with NRCC receipts of $2.5 million and $1.6 million in cash on hand. During the same period, the DCCC outspent the NRCC, reporting expenditures of $3 million, compared with $2.7 million in disbursements for the GOP committee.

And although NRCC Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.) has prioritized eliminating his committee’s debt over stockpiling cash for next year’s elections, the DCCC is doing better there as well, reporting a shortfall of $3.1 million, compared with $4 million for the NRCC.

“The Republicans’ fundraising numbers reflect the NRCC’s disarray — clearly, the base realizes Republicans are on the wrong side on Iraq and children’s health care, and spending like drunken sailors,” said Jennifer Crider, a spokeswoman for the DCCC.

The NRCC acknowledges its handicap on the fundraising front. But the committee is buoyed by the fact that most GOP incumbents represent districts that lean Republican, while around 60 Democratic incumbents hold seats that have historically voted for Republicans in presidential elections.

“The fact that there are more Democrats sitting in traditionally Republican seats shows that they’re going to play lot of defense and will need every penny to play defense in these areas,” NRCC spokeswoman Julie Shutley said.

But at the same time, far more House Republicans are heading to the exits than Democrats, meaning the GOP will have to defend several open seats that could be competitive.

Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee once again served as the lone bright spot for the GOP last month.

While the RNC and the Democratic National Committee were not that far apart in August in money raised — $5.1 million for the RNC, $4.6 million for the DNC — the RNC banked $16 million at the end of the month, compared with just $4.7 million for the DNC.