Earlier this week, the DCCC unveiled an unprecedented fifth wave of its highly-touted “Red to Blue” fundraising and support program for Democratic candidates running in GOP-held House districts. With the DCCC bolstering the ranks of this program with so many up and comers, it’s worth asking: just how valuable is this endorsement, and what can its participants expect in terms of tangible support?
The “Red to Blue” distinction is essentially the DCCC’s stamp of confidence in a local campaign. Roll Call has more:
The list started in the 2004 cycle. Democratic consultant Mark Nevins worked at the DCCC before the list became akin to “the Good Housekeeping seal of approval” for Democratic Congressional races.
“If a candidate is on the Red to Blue program, it is an easy way to identify people who the party believes have a realistic shot at winning,” he said.
In other words, the distinction is an arrow drawn by the DCCC for potential donors saying: Hey, this candidate is worth your time — and money. CT-04 candidate Jim Himes sums it up well:
“It certainly got us a lot of assistance from the DCCC,” Himes said. “It certainly helped with validation and credibility, and it helped to some extent with fundraising as well.”
But after seven months on the list, Himes said Red to Blue was more helpful in the beginning stages of his campaign.
“I guess I would agree that the Red to Blue program is more helpful early on than when it comes down to people making a decision about voting,” he said. “At this point, my critical challenge is really telling my story in my district.”
In other words, the earlier a campaign can secure this endorsement, the more valuable it is in terms of attracting national donors. (That’s not to say that late-bloomers can’t win – but more on that below.)
But what about attracting cash infusions from the DCCC itself in the form of independent expenditures? Looking at each of the DCCC’s four waves of R2B in the 2006 cycle gives us a similar answer: the earlier that a campaign is added to the program, the more likely the committee has been to make independent expenditures in that particular race.
Let’s go through each of the DCCC’s Red to Blue waves in 2006, and tally up how much the DCCC spent on each race. We’ll start with the first wave, and continue with the remainder below the fold. (UPDATE: As per suggestions in the comments, I’ve added up the NRCC’s totals in these districts, too — to give you a sense of how much of a bullseye gets painted on an R2B candidate’s back.)
Wave 1 – April 27, 2006:
Wave 2 – July 13, 2006:
Wave 3 – September 18, 2006:
Wave 4 – October 27, 2006:
Now, it’s pretty clear that the addition of so many races to the R2B program a week and a half before election day was mostly a “pat on the back” exercise for many of these candidates rather than a legitimate showing of support, although it’s worth noting that we’re looking at five congressmen today who came out of that last-minute batch.
However, just about every candidate in the September 18th and earlier waves received a direct helping hand by the DCCC’s IE shop – with the exception of blue seaters who never really needed the help (Hirono, Hare and Sutton), and Phyllis Busansky, who never really stood much of a chance against a candidate named “Bilirakis”.
So with all that in mind, here are the five waves of Red to Blue that the DCCC has announced so far this year: Round one, two, three, four, and five.
Special note: I could not obtain figures for FL-13, but I do know that the DCCC funneled some considerable resources here.