Stuart Rothenberg: Big Gulf Between Parties On Spending Strategies

Election Day is still five days off, but already Republican strategists are whispering that they out-maneuvered their Democratic counterparts.

The National Republican Congressional Committee and certain other GOP-allied groups adopted a reasonable but risky strategy, which proved effective. Those strategists decided to spend their limited financial resources early and in some not-so-obvious cheap media markets, hoping to put more seats into play and generate momentum for the cycle.

They hoped that buzz about increased GOP opportunities would create more fundraising opportunities, and they bet that increased opportunities would encourage a more aggressive approach by “outside” Republican-leaning groups, some of which seemed more focused on Senate races.

They have won their bet.

Who is right about strategy? Probably both, to some extent.

But the nature of the cycle worked against Democrats no matter how and where they chose to spend their cash. No matter its financial resources, the DCCC was dealt a bad hand this cycle.

The Republican message of change (against President Barack Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi , in particular) resonated better than the multiple Democratic messages, about George W. Bush , privatizing Social Security or the unacceptability of the GOP nominees. When voters want to send a message of change, it’s difficult to change their focus.

Yes, Republicans helped make the playing field wider. But as observers on both sides of the partisan divide agree, the country’s mood made voters receptive to the Republican message of change.

Finally, if you’ve made it to the end of this column, you might incorrectly assume that I am suggesting the DCCC deserves blame for this spanking Democrats are about to receive. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Whatever you think about the parties’ strategies and tactics, blame for the Democrats’ coming electoral bloodbath clearly rests with the White House and with the party’s Congressional leadership.

Blame Obama, Pelosi, David Axelrod, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, former economics adviser Christina Romer and whoever else was involved in creating Democratic policy, but don’t blame the DCCC and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the House and Senate losses. And feel free to give the NRCC and the National Republican Senatorial Committee some credit, too.

Read more from Stuart Rothenberg at CQPolitics.com

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