Ezra Klein had a post yesterday about Mitt Romney’s nightmare scenario, which is, essentially, that the stench of losing doesn’t wash off quickly and the powers that be (read: money) abandon him.
If you just compare the Romney and Obama campaigns, Obama’s actually got a cash advantage. Up until August, the most recent month for which fundraising numbers are available, Obama raised $337 million to Romney’s $194 million. He’s also got about $88 million on-hand, as compared to Romney’s $50 million. That’s in part because Romney wasn’t the clear nominee until a few months ago, leaving Republicans who wanted Obama out of office unsure where to put their money. Many of them sent that money to the Republican Party itself.
For that reason, the picture looks better for Romney when you add in the money raised by the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee. The RNC has raised $189 million to the DNC’s $111 million, though the joint Obama/DNC “Victory Fund” has raised $291 million to the Romney/RNC’s $207 million, and, for technical reasons related to the number of small donors, more of that money is available to the Obama campaign than to the Romney campaign.
If Romney looks to be underwater, shackled to cinderblocks, then the outside money, says Ezra, will refocus on House and Senate races. And that’s almost certainly true.
The problem is that super-pac money is far more effective in Senate and (especially) House races. I’ve always felt that outside money is much less effective at a Presidential level, especially aimed at an incumbent, because people have had four years to form their own impressions. Add onto that the Bill Clinton convention speech, which provided a brilliant context to Obama’s record and in many ways inoculated him from most attacks Romney and the outside groups could gin up. (If you’re wondering why there’s a GOP cottage industry that’s sprung up out of magnifying
gaffes by out of context snippets from Barack Obama, there’s your answer.) But if gazillionaires want to try and buy a Presidency, that is, apparently, their right, and who am I to tell them that, in this case, it’s not going to work?
Obviously, I don’t want that super-pac money spent effectively. So from the Democratic partisan’s point of view, I want an election which appears close but is, in fact, just out of Romney’s reach. The lure of the Presidency would be too hard to resist, and Democrats would have a better (if not great) chance of retaking the House, and a much strong hold on the Senate.
This is why the Romney campaign needs to step up. Kick a meaningless field goal as time runs out. Give your beleaguered billionaires some hope. Do it for the good of the country.