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Dem Campaigns Way Short on Cash

The good news is that Democrats have expanded the number of congressional seats they can pick up on Nov. 7 beyond what most insiders thought possible six months ago -- as many as 41 in the House, according to DCorps strategist Stan Greenberg, and 7 in the senate. The bad news is that they are far short of the cash needed to run competitive campaigns. According to Jim VandeHei's WaPo article "Funding Constrains Democrats: Party Chiefs See Chance to Take 40-Plus Seats With TV Push," Dems face some painful choices over the next two+ weeks:

Some Democratic officials and donors want their money concentrated to maximize the chances that the party captures the minimum number of seats necessary to gain majorities in the House and the Senate, rather than having resources spread too thin by spending on second-tier targets....It would be virtually impossible to expand the number of House seats with fully competitive races without taking some money away from efforts to win back the Senate.

...The DCCC is likely to go deep into debt, perhaps topping the $11 million deficit it racked up in 2004. The committee can borrow as much as a bank is willing to lend. The other option is to take money out of Republican districts that the party is confident it is almost certain to win.

This approach carries a big risk, however. If the party pulls ads in districts such as the Indiana base of Rep. Chris Chocola, who is trailing by double digits in private Democratic polling, it might allow an established GOP incumbent to creep back up in the race.

VandeHei points out that big donors, including George Soros, are not giving as much to congressional campaigns as in 2004, prefering to invest in long-term growth. DCorps strategists Stan Greenberg and James Carville and are now calling on Dem campaigns to borrow as much as they can to close the cash shortfall. As James Carville puts it:

I am saying this is a twice-in-a-lifetime environment... You try to maximize it.

For both parties, it's all about saturating districts with TV ads over the next two plus weeks, and the GOP has a strong advantage at present. Smaller contributors will probably decide how large the Dems' margin of victory will be in the House and whether or not Dems win the Senate. Everyone who wants to see a Democratic majority in Congress should make a contribution now.