Manufactured Money Surge

I’ve often marveled at the extraordinary investment Republicans seem to have in pre-spinning elections. Their “team” isn’t just on the brink of victory (in the case of the big contest in this cycle for control of the Senate, one that will be “won” if at all via an astonishingly favorable landscape); it’s on the brink of a “wave” that will foretell future “waves” and before long total victory everywhere! That’s why Dick Morris lasted as long as he did as a pundit people actually listened to: his outrageous prophecies didn’t particularly stand out.

But in any event, TNR’s Alec MacGillis notes an important qualifier and undertow amidst all the triumphalism: a sustained campaign in the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal to poor-mouth the GOP’s financial situation, with the thinly disguised purpose of scaring the Journal‘s wealthy readership into ponying up more for The Cause:

Just a few weeks ago, the conservative opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal were full of praise for Harry Reid and the Democrats’ 2014 campaign operation. One after another Journal opinion writer marveled at the Democrats’ fundraising and compared them favorably to their lackluster Republican counterparts. Journal editorial board member Kim Strassel (a recent winner of the $250,000 Bradley Prize for conservative commentators) led the way on August 21 with a column subtitled “Democratic Super PACs and party campaign committees are outraising the Republicans….”

On September 17, a similar note was sounded by Karl Rove, co-founder of American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, one of the biggest outside groups funding Republican candidates, in his weekly column in the Journal under the attention-getting headline “Why a GOP Senate Majority Is Still in Doubt.”…

[W]hy ever would the Journal’s conservatives be going to such lengths to draw attention to the successes of Harry Reid and his henchmen? Well, it doesn’t exactly take Frank Underwood-level skills of political deduction to figure this one out. The Journal is the newspaper of the country’s business elite, which in most industries still leans Republican. These pieces were landing on C-suite desks with a message that had all the subtlety of a public-radio fundraising-drive. Guys, the message read, we are to our surprise not as far ahead in the money game as we expected to be for the midterms. Please send checks, pronto.

If that was the idea, it seems to have worked. MacGillis quotes Nick Confessore’s underdiscussed report from the New York Times yesterday:

“Republican candidates for the Senate have overcome the sizable fund-raising edge held by their Democratic opponents for most of the 2014 election cycle, according to new disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission, outraising or matching Democrats in races that will decide control of the Senate and entering the final weeks of the campaign with ample cash.

“Republican candidates and “super PACs” are now splurging on expensive last-minute advertising, at a time when polling shows Republicans increasingly more likely to win control of the Senate.”

So we can now expect Republicans to return to their previously scheduled spinning about the world-historical dimensions of the upcoming victory.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.