Princes of Darkness: The Role of National Parties in Negative Advertising

The FEC, as mentioned earlier on this site by Chris Bowers, keeps track of Positive and Negative advertising campaigns run by "independent sources." Independent mean, of course, not directly connected to the candidate in an offical manner.  Out of about 1,000 campaign entries representing the national political parties and interest groups, exactly 65 totalled over $1 million.  Fully 64 of the 65 represented the national parties.  The ads are overwhelmingly classified as negative.  More details follow below as well as a comparison of the roles of the Democratic and Republican campaign committees.

Overall, the two national political parties funded 64 campaigns and provided a total of $126 million for these high profile campaigns.  Democrats were outfunded, $65,954,919 to $60,241,783.  National Democrats invested in 30 campaigns; national Republicans invested in 31 campaigns although three campaigns benefited from multiple one millio plus expenditures by both the National Republican Committee and by the Republican Senatorial Cpmmittee.  The RNC provided nearly $8 million which is enough to provide a small Republican edge.  

Expenditures over the two days since the closingt date for these statistics gave a definite edge to Democrats.  At the least, the number of funded campaigns is even at 31 and Democratic funding for these races has closed the funding gap from nearly $6 million to something closer to $3 million.

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Schumer Agrees With Chris; DSCC Targets Virginia

In his update on MyDD's Senate forecast today, Chris rightly notes that Virginia is now very much on the board as Jim Webb edges closer and closer to George Allen in the polls. DSCC chair Chuck Schumer has apparently come to the same conclusion, as Michael D. Shear reports for The Washington Post.

[Webb's new ad] also comes amid signs that national Democrats are taking the race seriously. Two sources, who declined to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss campaign strategy, said the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has hired Mo Elleithee, a consultant who was communications director for Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's campaign, to produce independent ads on behalf of Webb.

Elleithee and DSCC officials declined to comment. But the decision to bring on Elleithee suggests that Virginians may soon see more hard-hitting ads attacking Allen.

As Chris notes, Webb is at a clear monetary disadvantage even after having raised big dollars since winning the Democratic primary earlier this summer. Though Allen is clearly on the defensive these days having completely lost control of his image, his large warchest should nonetheless help him get reestablished with Virgnians over the next 60 days.

That is why the decision by the DSCC to invest serious funds in Virginia is so important. Every attempt by Allen to reassert himself in Virginia through paid media must be met in kind with a response, and the DSCC appears determined to provide it. With Allen now firmly under 50 percent and Webb within the margin of error, a few million dollars could go a long way to keep Allen's support soft and help put Jim Webb in the position to win in November.

If you, too, want to help out, visit Jim Webb on ActBlue.

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Bush Handed Brutal Bolton Defeat

Steve Clemons reports on Lincoln Chafee's stand against Bush's nominee on the Foreign Relations Committee.  Had the Committee vote been held today, Chafee would have voted no on Bolton, making a loss pretty assured.  This may change, but it's not looking good for Bush.  I don't normally compliment Republicans, but Chafee did the right thing in standing for the United Nations and against the right-wing.  Rhode Island should be proud of their Senator.

Let me reserve special enmity for Chuck Schumer, who was a very bad boy, irresponsibly conflating Israel's interests and the Bolton vote.

.Senator Schumer, on this issue, is the enemy inside the tent.

Several of the Democratic parties biggest supporters -- financial and organizational -- have called Schumer in the last few days to modify his support of Bolton, and yes -- he is actively supporting Bolton. One of these mega-funders reported back after a disappointing encounter with Schumer that the conversation would save him "a lot of money" in donations the next year (i.e., Schumer was now in the dog house).

I'll have more on the signifance of this victory.  It's a big deal.

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On Bolton and SchumerDems

I've been reading Bolton Watch for some time.  Apparently, the Democrats have the votes or are very near the votes to stop Bolton on the floor in the form of a filibuster.  The only way this could be derailed is if people who voted against Bolton last time that are now wavering wind up on Bolton's side.  The three names that jump out at me are Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, and Dianne Feinstein.  

I have no idea why these people make us whip them every single time on obvious votes like this.  It's really frustrating.  I mean Bolton is a rogue element pushing us to ignore the UN in encouraging action against Iran.  He's a genuinely crazy man who thinks that hateful wingnut blogging is the same thing as journalism, and he's a key figure in Cheney's nationalistic and paranoid designs.

The Path to 9/11 propaganda piece is designed to increase the power of figures like this at the expense of real diplomacy.  The hearings for Bolton are this week.  Why these Democratic figures aren't publicly against Bolton - even though they opposed him a year ago - is just maddening.  

I mean I know that Democrats need to hear from the public once in a while, but every single time?  Can't these leaders realize that a massive outcry about the direction of US foreign policy less than a year ago wasn't fake?

Arghh.  Anyway, consider this preemptive kudos to any of these figures who come out against Bolton.

Update: Chris Dodd has rocked this fight. I particularly liked this line:

"My objection isn't that he's a bully," said Dodd, D-Conn., when Bolton appeared before the committee recently, "but that he's been an ineffective bully and can't win the day when it really counts.

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The Internet Slaps Back At Nasty Actors

There's lots of very cool electoral, political, and organizational news on the net neutrality front, including more public humiliation of net neutrality opponents.  The video above is just one local story from Save the Internet's nationwide set of rallies over the past few days.  Here's where we are in the fight.  

In September and October, we're going to see a massive push by telecom companies on net neutrality.  They've been doing quiet lobbying through astroturf groups, but it's going to heat up dramatically.  Included in this PR campaign will be a push by the Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Deborah Platt Majoras to talk about the issue in a way that's favorable to telecom companies.  Majoras is a Bush crony and comes from big business, a sort of Michael Brown of the internet, so it'll be interesting to see what kind of backlash this potential move from the Bush administration provokes.  One thing to note is that the Bush administration is apparently going to unmask itself as a net neutrality opponent.  I imagine the telecom companies don't realize what they're doing here, and that Deborah Platt Majoras doesn't understand that she's putting herself in a very very public spotlight.  But then, political insight hasn't been a strong suit of the telecom lobby.

On our side, there have been grassroots lobbying efforts throughout August.  There were rallies around the country today and yesterday in front of Senate offices, and four Senators came out in favor of net neutrality (Schumer, Jeffords, Harkin, and Dayton) this week.  Tim Karr runs down the rallies.  There was great local coverage of the incredible events in Detroit, New York, Buffalo, Fayetteville, Denver, Boston, Newark, Providence, Baltimore, Portland (ME), Seattle, Eau Claire and Milwaukee, Montpelier, Wilmington, Orlando, Honolulu, Louisville, Columbus, Madison, Spokane, Charleston, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe.  Our Senate tally is updated here, so you can see where your Senator stands. Note all the waffling by the R's.  That's not an accident.

And now we get to the most fun part of the fight, which is how the internet is taking its revenge on bad characters.  This time, it's Ted Stevens and George Allen.  When we set out on this fight, it wasn't a progressive issue, but based on the people who have unmasked themselves as opponents of net neutrality, it is becoming a fight over the progressive nature of the internet.  And what's interesting when we're fighting over progressive values is how multiple fights always seem to converge at key points among key personalities.  Take George Allen, for instance.

It shouldn't be a surprise that Allen, in his perch on the Commerce Committee, voted against net neutrality.  The internet has practically destroyed his Presidential prospects in 2008, and may cause him to lose his Senate seat.  Ironically, Allen is now running running TV ads touting his high technology work in Virginia, evasively avoiding discussion of his vote against net neutrality.  At the time, Allen had $10 million on hand, and was considered a leading Presidential contender for the Republicans in 2008.

Since that vote, the internet has hit back, hard.  It's well-known by now that George Allen's campaign is being ruined by the Macaca comment, a racist jab that flew all over the internet because of youtube and blogs, and then all over Virginia through local and national media.  Allen still can't escape it, and his polling numbers have crumbled.  But what's less well-known is how an internet draft campaign recruited his opponent, Former Reagan administration official Jim Webb.  Moreover, internet sleuths have linked Allen with the KKK descended group the Conservative Citizens Council, circulating pictures of Allen with the group's leadership online.  

So I'll just point out that net neutrality, internet politics, and electoral work are all converging on Allen.  A candidate drafted by activists on the internet, Jim Webb, is now challenging Allen, an internet foe.  There is just a very bright and stark line, and a real race, where before the Senate reelection was seen as a cakewalk and prep time for 2008.  Earlier this year, Allen was hanging out in Iowa and talking about how bored he was in the Senate.  Now he's hanging on for his political life.

Another character getting smacked is Ted Stevens, who recently placed a secret hold on a bill to prevent a searchable database of earmarks, supposedly as revenge against the Senator trying to prevent Stevens' pet pork 'bridge to nowhere' from being funded.  Citizen journalists on the internet forced Stevens and his secret hold to come to light by querying every Senator about whether they had used the tricky legislative maneurver.  Stevens of course is the force behind eviscerating net neutrality in the Senate.  Stevens hasn't yet lived down his series of tubes moment, when he solidified his image as a cranky old man who either hangs out in haunted amusement parks or yells at pigeons.

Lead actors involved in the net neutrality fight on the other side have seen a massive loss of prestige and substantial public embarrassment.  Al Wynn is facing a real primary challenge in Donna Edwards.  George Allen got torched by internet activists, and saw his political career and influence reduced dramatically.  And George Allen, Ted Stevens, and Mike McCurry are all to varying degrees objects of public ridicule.

There were rallies all around the country yesterday and today to save the internet, to save net neutrality.  This train is leaving the station.  I wouldn't want to be in its way.

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