Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 1, 2014

Posts in "NRCC"

August 6, 2014

Inside House Democrats’ Expanding Ground Game

In the face of a challenging midterm environment, Democrats are relying on money and an expanding get-out-the-vote effort to avoid losing any more ground in the House. But what does that souped-up ground game look like?

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s fundraising advantage over the National Republican Congressional Committee is well-documented by this point. And DCCC Chairman Steve Israel said his party plans to out-organize Republicans in the fall.

The DCCC has 444 field staff on the ground in 48 districts, according to an official spokesperson, with another 219 scheduled to start later this month. The committee started August with at least 20 field staff in 11 districts.

The field effort is starting earlier than in previous cycles. The first permanent staffer started in early January in a competitive California district, which is about six months earlier than before. Full story

By Nathan L. Gonzales Posted at 12:07 p.m.
DCCC, House, NRCC

July 28, 2014

So You Want to Be a Political Handicapper? 2014 Edition

The thought of three candidate interviews over a four-hour period invariably fills me with dread.

The chance of all three congressional hopefuls being thoughtful, reasonable and personable — and having a good chance of winning in the fall — is relatively small.

But sometimes the unexpected happens. And on July 16, I had the pleasure of interviewing three quality candidates. Full story

Chuck Schumer’s Dream: A Democratic Nightmare

New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer laid out his dream for a less partisan Washington recently. But the Democrat’s New York Times op-ed is giving some strategists in his own party nightmares.

“Polarization and partisanship are a plague on American politics,” Schumer wrote in the piece — titled, “End Partisan Primaries, Save America” — in which he identified the party primary system as one of the main causes of dysfunction on Capitol Hill.

The senator uses House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s primary loss as a curious first example. “The partisan primary system, which favors more ideologically pure candidates, has contributed to the election of more extreme officeholders and increased political polarization,” according to Schumer, who also blamed “ideologically driven voters” in the Virginia race.

But Virginia has an open primary, in which voters of all stripes could pick up a ballot. And some of Cantor’s supporters blame his loss on Democrats voting for college professor Dave Brat, not just “ideologically driven” Republicans.

Schumer goes on to prescribe a “national movement to adopt the ‘top-two’ primary,” similar to California’s current system. But even though the senator declared “the move has had a moderating influence on both parties and a salutary effect on the political system and its ability to govern,” his prescription may not be a solution at all.

Full story

July 1, 2014

How Parties Communicate Without Coordinating

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Israel is the DCCC’s chairman. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Party campaign committees and outside groups aren’t allowed to coordinate, but as they outline their fall television ad strategies, interested groups are doing a very public dance to ensure they don’t step on each others’ toes and waste money duplicating efforts.

Now we have some specific examples of districts where this collaboration is taking place. Full story

June 18, 2014

In Campaign Ads, ‘Week One’ Is Still Months Away

It can feel like the 2014 congressional races have been going on forever, so when a campaign strategist talks about “Week One,” it can be confusing that Week One is still actually four months away.

Obtaining and understanding television ad buys is becoming an increasingly important part of analyzing House and Senate races. And deciphering the language, from gross rating points to designated media areas, is critical as well.

The National Republican Congressional Committee and the Democratic House Majority PAC recently released another round of television ad reservations for the fall. And the timing of the ads can matter almost as much as the amount of money behind the spots. Full story

June 17, 2014

Should Republicans Think the Unthinkable About Iowa’s 4th District?

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Democrats appear to be targeting Steve King. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

When everyone else on the planet — or at least in the nation’s capital — becomes consumed with something like a Virginia primary upset or a Clinton book launch, I often turn to focus on an obscure campaign or candidate instead. I figure there is already enough chatter about the popular stuff, and I can keep my sanity by focusing on minutiae.

Given that, it shouldn’t come as a shock that my topic today is Iowa’s 4th District, a generally overlooked seat in the middle of the nation represented by Republican Rep. Steve King.

After looking at King’s comfortable 2012 victory over heavily hyped Christie Vilsack (the wife of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and a one-time first lady of Iowa) and meeting the likely Democratic nominee this cycle, Jim Mowrer, I never thought this race would be worth any attention. I’m still not sure it is. Full story

April 21, 2014

Why TV Airtime Reservations Are More Important Than Ever

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Steve Israel of New York is the DCCC’s chairman. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

It’s time to pay more attention to television ad reservations; they have become another critical way party strategists communicate without coordinating under campaign finance laws.

Not too many cycles ago, political reporters rightly handled television ad reservations loosely and delicately as strategists from both parties used them to play games. Strategists would make some reservations with little or no intent to fulfill them in order to fake out the other party, the media or both.

But that was also a time when the party campaign committees (through their independent expenditure arms) dominated outside spending in races. Now, outside spending from non-party groups has increased, and party strategists can’t afford to pull in and out of competitive races or abruptly shift advertising plans because television spending strategies are more integrated.

“You can’t over-reserve anymore because once you’ve laid down that time, people are counting on you,” explained one Democratic strategist. Full story

April 18, 2014

8 House Race Ratings Changes Boost GOP, Democrats

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Dold is waging a comeback bid in Illinois. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

This week Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call made ratings changes in eight congressional districts and confirmed our rating in a ninth — Wisconsin’s 6th District — after GOP Rep. Tom Petri announced his retirement.

Here is a link to the Ratings map and a quick rundown of the moves we made, with links to the corresponding analysis. Full story

April 14, 2014

The War of Obamacare Anecdotes in the 2014 Elections

A couple months ago on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, I said that I thought the 2014 elections would be driven by anecdotes related to the Affordable Care Act. I think a pair of ads in two of the most competitive Senate races in the country could be a pretty accurate roadmap for the debate that is coming over the next six months.

Last week in Alaska, an outside group called Put Alaska First went on the air with a new, 30-second television ad, “Beat,” featuring cancer survivor Lisa Keller talking about her struggle to gain insurance coverage and thanking  Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, for his fight against the insurance companies.

Full story

April 3, 2014

Why Republicans Have Trouble Electing Women to Congress

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Love is a top GOP candidate in 2014. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Fewer Republican women are running for Congress in 2014, compared to last cycle. That’s a fact. But what it means — or whether it says anything at all about the GOP — is entirely a different matter.

Unfortunately, not every attempt to explain the development is even-handed and analytic.

“What’s clear is that Republicans are coming up short in their bid to recruit more women to run for office,” according to a Time magazine piece in late February stemming from a study conducted by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

The study was the catalyst for two rounds of stories (examples here and here, along with the Time piece), which EMILY’s List and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee redistributed to mock Republicans for the lack of female House candidates. Full story

February 20, 2014

How Jamestown Associates Adapted and Prospered

You probably think the recent spat between the National Republican Senatorial Committee (and really the entire GOP establishment) and Jamestown Associates, a GOP consulting firm, is interesting because it reflects the fissure in the Republican Party. But after covering campaigns for decades, I think it’s also a fascinating story of how a media firm has evolved and adapted to a changing political environment.

In late January, the Club for Growth announced that it was adding Jamestown to its media team and planned to use the firm in Mississippi, where the club is supporting state Sen. Chris McDaniel’s challenge to veteran Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, and in Nebraska, where the group is backing Ben Sasse’s bid for the GOP Senate nomination.

The club’s statement wasn’t shocking, of course, since Jamestown had already done work for the Senate Conservatives Fund in Kentucky (supporting the primary challenge of Matt Bevin to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell), and been blacklisted by the NRSC and the National Republican Congressional Committee.

For years, certainly throughout the 1990s, I viewed the New Jersey-based Jamestown as a regional consulting firm that worked mostly with moderate or even liberal Republicans running in the Northeast. Now it has become a national firm (with offices around the country) that will be one of a handful of firms promoting anti-establishment libertarian and tea party hopefuls this cycle. Full story

February 10, 2014

DCCC Is 2013 Fundraising Winner, but DNC Drops the Ball

A look at the end-of-the-year financial reports of the two House campaign committees, two Senate campaign committees and two national party committees makes it pretty clear which ones have something to crow about and which have some explaining to do.

The big winner is the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The DCCC, chaired by New York Rep. Steve Israel, brought in almost $76 million last year, ending December with more than $29 million in the bank.

It was a remarkable showing, given that Democrats are in the minority and there was only a brief chance, in October, that they could regain control of the House in 2014.

Full story

January 14, 2014

Rothenberg’s Dangerous Dozen Open House Seats

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McIntyre is retiring, giving Republicans a strong opportunity to pick up his House seat in North Carolina. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

I wrote my first Dangerous Dozen open House seats column in this space 14 years ago, so I figured I might as well keep the streak going, though it isn’t nearly as impressive as Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak.

As in my Jan. 17, 2000, column, the districts are listed in order of vulnerability. “All of the races on the list currently are worth watching, but I’ve concluded that the races at the top of the list are more likely to change party control than those at the bottom,” I wrote back then. The same applies now.

Utah’s 4th District (Jim Matheson, a Democrat, is retiring.)

Barack Obama received 41 percent of the vote in this district in 2008, but only 30 percent in his bid for re-election. No Democrat will begin with Matheson’s goodwill or moderate record, making the district impossible to hold for his party. After November, Republicans will control all four of the state’s House districts and both Senate seats. Full story

January 9, 2014

The Race Democrats Can’t Afford to Lose

It’s rare in politics that anything other than a presidential contest is viewed as a “must win” — but the special election in Florida’s 13th District falls into that category for Democrats.

A loss in the competitive March 11 contest would almost certainly be regarded by dispassionate observers as a sign that President Barack Obama could constitute an albatross around the neck of his party’s nominees in November. And that could make it more difficult for Democratic candidates, campaign committees and interest groups to raise money and energize the grass roots. Full story

December 4, 2013

House Democrats’ Not-So-Secret Weapon for 2014: Cash

House Democrats are stockpiling cash, and some GOP strategists have expressed concern that Democrats could use their financial advantage to expand the  playing field.

Through October, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $65 million and had $25 million in the bank for the 2014 cycle. The National Republican Congressional Committee raised $52 million during that same period and had $18 million in the bank. If Democrats continue to outpace Republicans in fundraising, that $7 million cash discrepancy could grow between now and next November.

So how could that impact the midterm elections? Full story

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