How the Democrats set $billions on fire and failed. Again.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made news recently with a bombshell interview that appeared in The New York Times. In the piece, AOC offers a critique of the Democratic Party, specifically in the way the party spends its campaign funds.
The DNC and its campaign arms, the D.C.C.C. and the D.S.C.C., are mired in the past, according to Ocasio-Cortez. “Our party isn’t even online, not in a real way that exhibits competence,” she says. “And so, yeah, they were vulnerable to these messages, because they weren’t even on the mediums where these messages were most potent.”
AOC is brilliant, but what she fails to mention (although I am sure she is aware) is that the purpose of the Democrats’ campaigns is not so much to elect candidates as to generate revenue for the DC consulting class that dominates the Party establishment.
And the fact is that canvassing and digital advertising are just too inexpensive and cost-efficient compared to old fashioned but very expensive TV and direct mail.
For example: there is no way that the Democrats could have set fire to $100 million in Jaime Harrison’s failed South Carolina Senate race by going digital. Nor could they have wasted another $90 million trying to defeat Mitch McConnell in Kentucky. Amy McGrath lost terribly, despite having blanketed the airwaves.
Another fact that AOC fails to drive home: the spectacle of Democrats spending mountains of cash only to go down to defeat is not new. In 2017, the plucky human cash incinerator Jon Ossoff was running in a special election in Georgia for House seat. Over the course of a short, 2-month race, the Democrats poured over $30 million into the race, making it the most expensive House race ever. Despite the cash tsunami, Ossoff came up short.
Perhaps the greatest example of Democratic campaign failure was Hillary Clinton’s disastrous run against Donald Trump in 2016. Clinton out-spent Trump 2 to 1 in the most expensive campaign in human history — and still lost. Most of the money spent by Clinton was an negative TV ads.
This article by Andy Dobbs from 2017 spells out the problem in detail:
Why would the DNC and DCCC put so much money into TV ads and mailers when the same money spent on a field effort could have better, more sustained results? The answer, in large part, is because these party institutions and in fact the Democratic Party as a whole are dominated by interests and attitudes which empower the consultants and undermine the field organizers.
This is not new. AOC is right, and it bears repeating, as she did in her Times interview:
If you’re not door-knocking, if you’re not on the internet, if your main points of reliance are TV and mail, then you’re not running a campaign on all cylinders.
The problem is that the consulting class is a huge influence in the Democratic Party. This New Republic article explains how it was a major revelation in Donna Brazile’s book:
We knew, too, that consultants grip the party tight, that they are increasingly at odds with the party’s base, and that they are not very good at winning elections. “The ‘election industrial complex’ is spending millions of dollars, and [Democrats] are not putting our money where our people are,” Jessica Byrd of Three Point Strategies told Fortune in July 2016.
So why has no one listened before now?
Let’s not forget that 100’s of voting members of the DNC are actual corporate lobbyists and consultants. This means that they will continue to waste money and make their friends filthy rich. David Sirota, in a recent interview explained that there were “dozens of new millionaires created by these campaigns”.
The DNC is a private corporation, lest we forget. They are simply not interested in winning elections so much as they are in raising and spending money within that corrupt consultant ecosystem.
And if you had ANY doubts about their lack of a serious desire to win, look no further than their choice to manage the House Majority PAC, which spent the bulk of the cash this cycle.
The man responsible for managing the House Majority PAC is none other than Robby Mook, the guy who managed Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.
Sorry, but you cannot put such a blatant, corrupt loser in charge of your “House Majority” campaign and tell me you are serious about winning elections.