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Thu Nov 22, 2012, 08:49 PM

Charlie Cook: Senate Democrats Earned Every Seat They Won--Thanks to the DSCC

It’s hard to talk about the 2012 congressional elections without starting with the Senate and the remarkable election night for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Democrats scored a net gain of two seats, something that was inconceivable 90 days ago or, for that matter, on Nov. 5. They held five of their six most vulnerable seats, and no Democratic incumbent lost reelection. Of 10 toss-up races, Democrats won nine. For what was generally considered to be a non-wave election, those results are extraordinary.

The DSCC was dealt a weak hand at the start of the cycle, prompting some analysts to question the sanity of Chairwoman Patty Murray of Washington, talented Executive Director Guy Cecil, and their team for taking on the challenge. They had to defend 23 seats to 10 for Republicans. Democrats had more retirements and, for much of the cycle, more vulnerable seats.
But Murray and her team decided to play offense instead of defense, and they made their own success. First, they recruited competitive challengers to every Republican incumbent who might be vulnerable. They recruited an insurance policy or two, such as getting Rep. Joe Donnelly of Indiana to run for the Senate. They recruited solid candidates to defend their own vulnerable open seats, even in states that were strongly Republican—for example, Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota. Senate Democrats made sure their campaigns were well staffed, placing managers, communication directors, fundraisers, and field staff in races where their talents could be maximized. Finally, and contrary to early conventional wisdom, Democratic outside groups such as Majority PAC and Priorities USA raised enough money to blunt the impact of outside Republican groups. In the end, Democrats earned every seat they won.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee doesn’t deserve the criticism being heaped upon it for losing two seats. The committee, under the leadership of John Cornyn of Texas, includes talented professionals who did the best they could under the circumstances. Executive Director Rob Jessmer, Political Director Rich Dunn, and Communications Director Brian Walsh are as good as they come. The NRSC was dealt a good hand at the start of the cycle, but many things beyond its control eroded its position. Republicans have problems matching Democrats in recruiting candidates and managing primaries because the GOP base simply not does allow the party to anoint the strongest candidate in a race. In 2010, the NRSC got involved in primaries and faced a backlash from conservative voters that produced weak nominees who cost them three seats. This cycle, the committee stayed out of primaries but saw GOP voters pick weak candidates in Indiana and Missouri, two states they should have won. At the end of the day, the losing team always looks for a scapegoat, and the NRSC is a natural one, but the fault truly lies with a recalcitrant and inflexible base.


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Reply Charlie Cook: Senate Democrats Earned Every Seat They Won--Thanks to the DSCC (Original post)
RandySF Nov 2012 OP
MannyGoldstein Nov 2012 #1

Response to RandySF (Original post)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 09:01 PM

1. I think the Republicans deserve at least some credit for this amazing victory


They did their best to be as crazy, contemptuous, and craven as possible.

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