Center-Left 527 Committees Blow Away Right-Wing Counterparts
One of the better stories in this campaign centers on the Democrats' ability to erase an assumed Bush/GOP fundraising advantage this year. Not only has the Kerry campaign learned valuable lessons from the Dean people about internet fundraising, but Kerry has outraised Bush during the last three months as well, getting most of their contributions from small donors that have greatly expanded the party's fundraising base.
Another success for the party during this cycle has been the proliferation of center-left Section 527 committees, which have raised millions of dollars in contributions separate of the Kerry and DNC/DSCC/DCCC campaigns. Major players like Move-On.org, America Coming Together, and the Media Fund have flooded key battleground states with issue ads pointing out Bush's lies and failings, sometimes coordinated to coincide with appearances by Bush in those same states in a true Truth Squad approach first advocated here last year.
The GOP response to these center-left 527 committees was to assume they could build a network of 527 committees themselves. However, both the RNC and the White House found it difficult to get their 527 committees and networks off the ground last year due to corporate hesitation from accounting scandals, and the Bush campaign's vacuum-cleaning of corporate coffers for their own purposes. In this case, Rove assumed he could bludgeon the Democrats with his usual combination of large corporate donors and millions of small donors from well-developed lists giving directly to Bush/Cheney 2004, and he didn't see an immediate priority for a 527-based approach.
But when the Dean fundraising bulldozer and the zeal of the base to run Bush out of town any way possible became apparent, as well as when heavy-hitters like George Soros committed themselves to dump millions into efforts to defeat Bush using the 527s, the GOP decided they had to make up for their failure to compete with the center-left 527s by relying upon the Federal Election Commission to issue rules sharply limiting the use of 527s.
However, the FEC decided not to play ball and abstained from issuing new rules for the 527s until after this election cycle, catching the GOP flatfooted. So the RNC and its special interest benefactors boasted that they would jump into the 527 game in earnest, and catch up to the center-left committees in short order.
But it hasn't turned out that way. Tom Edsall's piece in tomorrow's Washington Post reports that the right-wing 527s have not only failed to catch up, but they are still being blown away by the center-left committees through the last quarter. What is now being noticed by the right wing and White House is that more and more money from corporate leaders is finding its way to the center-left 527s, while the right wing 527s still have to rely upon contributions from right wing PACs and the usual assortment of conservative loons.
It is always rewarding to see the Democrats catch Rove off-guard and beat him and the party at their own game.