Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Theory of Political-Financial Attrition

The punditocracy is awash with those who think Republican efforts to take back the House and Senate are doomed. Frankly, it doesn't look good. What to do? Die with honor! And do as much damage as you can while you're going down.

The raw facts about the party finances lend credence to this dour sentiment. By any measure, Democratic candidates and Democrat campaign committees are bringing in much more money than their Republican counterparts. Republicans are out-gunned.

Entrenched incumbents almost never lose, barring the occasional "dead woman or live boy" scandal. Such Untouchables have large campaign war chests at their disposal, have first dibs at party and caucus money, and often represent safe districts. The unlikelihood of their defeat acts as a deterrent force against any potential challengers, or, if some fool does step in, the challenger's party lifts nary a finger in assistance.

What do these unchallenged incumbents do with their money? They give some of it away to help candidates elsewhere. By helping push their marginal fellow partisans over the finish line they accumulate favors for future battles.

Oppositely, what does an incumbent do when he as a challenger? He empties his coffers! Electoral history is littered with the corpses of challengers who were outspent 3-to-1 yet were only defeated by a few percentage points.

My suggestion is, if we are to lose, to make the best of this year by making the fat cats spend as much of their money as we can. Democratic money spent ensuring the comfortable re-election of an entrenched incumbent is money NOT spent meddling in marginal races and is NOT money carried over into the next election cycle. If we are going to spend down to zero then make them spend down as much as we can.

1 comment:

S. Weasel said...

Hm. I made a comment on this one last night, and Blogger seems to have eaten it (after bitching at me about a link and then bitching because I forgot to re-enter my password the second time).

Let's see if this goes through.