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The Best $1.5 Million Ever Spent In Politics

Democrats spent $1.5 million during the Republican Senate Primary in Missouri in an effort to tilt the election in their favor:

There’s a reason why Democrats spent over $1.5 million trying to help Akin win his three-way primary. He was the most conservative candidate in the field — and the most unpredictable one. He shook up his campaign staff late last year. He recently released a head-scratching and jumbled campaign ad. And Democrats have already launched a microsite highlighting his controversial statements that won’t play well with moderates. (“America has got the equivalent of the stage III cancer of socialism because the federal government is tampering in all kinds of stuff it has no business tampering in,” Akin once said.)

Akin is far from an ideal Republican nominee. But the GOP doesn’t need a superstar to defeat McCaskill. She is running in a state where Mitt Romney is expected to defeat President Obama. She will have to confront opposition ads that will attack her for billing taxpayers for trips she took on a plane she co-owned with her husband. She has long been one of the most high profile backers of the President.

This comes from a post-primary article by The Washington Post’s Sean Sullivan, which also included this prophetic line:

Akin’s uncompromising brand of social conservatism, for example, might lead him to say something that may give political moderates — the same moderates who don’t like the economic policies advanced by Obama and Senate Democrats — pause in the Senate race.

No doubt, Missouri Democrats were likely hoping that Akin would make these statements at some point later in the race rather than a few days before the deadline for when he’d be able drop out without penalty. One thinks there were likely a few Democrats nervously watching these past two days to see if Akin would give in to his party’s demands that he step aside for a more acceptable candidate, which would have blown their entire strategy out of the water. Thankfully, for them at least, Akin’s stubbornness combined with the delusions apparently being fed to him by his socially conservative supporters seem to be keeping him in the race.

Here’s how they pushed the Akin candidacy during the primary:

The latest example is a new radio ad paid for by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee that attacks Rep. Todd Akin (R), but does so slyly, in a manner that appears to be designed to endear him to conservative voters.

“Todd Akin calls himself the true conservative, but is he too conservative?” asks the narrator of the ad, which is approved by McCaskill’s campaign and paid for by the DSCC. The narrator goes on to note the negative posture Akin has taken toward President Obama, before concluding, “it’s no surprise Todd has been endorsed by the most conservative leaders in our country - Michele Bachmann and Mike Huckabee.”

(…)

Democrats maintain that their efforts are as much about the general election as the primary and that they cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and abstain from defining their potential opponents.

“Just like all the Republican Senate hopefuls in this race, Todd Akin’s agenda is too right wing and out of touch with Missouri’s middle class,” said DSCC spokesman Matt Canter. “We are going to make sure Missouri voters understand the stark choice between Claire McCaskill and the extreme partisan ideology of whoever wins the Republican primary.”

But taken together, the nuance of McCaskill’s anti-Akin ad, the DSCC’s decision to focus on the congressman, and Majority PAC’s anti-Brunner spot suggest Democratic strategists believe there is utility in trying to influence the outcome of the primary.

It was, I would submit, a very wise choice.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Harry Reid would beg to differ. FYI, in ’10 Reid spent an equivalent sum trying to get Sharron Angle to be his opponent for the general, as opposed to Sue Lowden (who would have defeated him in a rout) or the junior Tarkanian (who easily would have defeated him).

    But still McCaskill’s power play obviously worked like a charm. You have to give her credit along with the DSCC.

    Gray Davis once pulled a similar move, duping CA conservatives into saddling the party with Bill Simon (a walking mannequin) over Richard Riordan (who likely would have cleaned Davis’ clock), although in the end it really didn’t do Davis all that much good.

    Probably the greatest irony with all this is that the loopy and cocooned right wing, especially the thumpers, would not be able even to grasp the irony. Democrats can play them like violins and they’re too out to lunch to know about it, much less to care.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  2. superdestroyer says:

    As the Republican Party collapses and the U. S. moves closer to a one party state, there will be a period where the Democrats will put resources into hand picking their opponents. Gray Davis did the same thing in California in the 1990’s.

    I would guess that the hand picking will end when most states go to top two open primaries (the final nail in the conservative coffin) and the Democrats have to spend time and resources on the primary elections again.

    I wonder if wonks and wannabes will spot obsessing about irrelevant politicians such as Sarah Palin or celebrities such as Donald Trump to actually notice how elections and politicians will be conducted in the future.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. Rob in CT says:

    You know, this sort of thing worries me. Because Akin could win. And then what? You have this Bat Guano US senator. In which case, bang up job Dems!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Rob in CT:

    You know, this sort of thing worries me. Because Akin could win. And then what? You have this Bat Guano US senator. In which case, bang up job Dems!

    Yep, couldn’t agree more. Which is why I voted in the GOP primary (Brunner).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  5. Loviatar says:

    I found this article by Jeffery Smith a former Missouri State Senator that encapsulates the reasoning behind Todd Akin’s decision to stay in the race.

    Eleven reasons Akin didn’t quit

    11.) Missouri politicians who have in the past tried to negotiate with Akin describe it as sort of like trying to negotiate with Ahmadinejad. He is a zealot, in every sense of the word. As one top Republican said this morning, “It’s hard to reason with an idiot.” Or maybe, it’s just hard to use worldly logic on someone who is divinely inspired.

    I’m not a fan of Andrew Sullivan, but he called it correctly when he described the christian right as Christanist. They are our equivalent of the Islamist, we now only have to wait for the Republicans to finalize their conversion into the American Taliban.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  6. sam says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Harry Reid would beg to differ. FYI, in ’10 Reid spent an equivalent sum trying to get Sharron Angle to be his opponent for the general, as opposed to Sue Lowden (who would have defeated him in a rout) or the junior Tarkanian (who easily would have defeated him).

    Eh? Angle did win the nomination and was defeated by Reid. Why would he beg to differ? Differ about what?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  7. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    So, how does this affect the argument that Akin represents the ideal Republican, if he was the preferred choice of the Democrats and owes a great deal of his success to them?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. An Interested Party says:

    So, how does this affect the argument that Akin represents the ideal Republican, if he was the preferred choice of the Democrats and owes a great deal of his success to them?

    If Akin isn’t the ideal Republican, perhaps the GOP wouldn’t have an abortion plank in its platform that is so similar to his views

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0