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RNC Has Huge Fundraising Edge; Senate Dems Set Off-Year $ Record

With official financial reports due at the Federal Election Commission by Jan. 31, the national party committees are beginning to release their fundraising figures for 2005.

The Republican National Committee raised $102 million last year and had $34 million in the bank at the end of the year.  The Democratic National Committee brought in $51 million and ended the year with $5.5 million. The $28.5 million spread between the RNC and DNC is the largest cash-on-hand differential between the two national party committees in more than 15 years. But, as DNC flack Josh Earnest is quick to point out, his committee's' off-year fundraising is a 20 percent increase over where it was in 2003 -- the previous record for off-year money gathering.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean continues to insist that his committee's investment in state parties  -- the DNC now has a full-time staffer placed with all 50 state parties -- will pay dividends for 2006 and beyond. Some within the Democratic establishment worry that with such a financial gap between the committees, the DNC may not be able to play as active a role in 2006 campaign as the RNC will.

On the Senate side, the Democrats' campaign arm continued to  maintain a comfortable financial margin over its Republican counterpart. For the year, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised $44 million -- a record for off-year fundraising by the committee. The previous record was in 2001 when the committee brought in $37 million in a combination of hard and soft dollars. The DSCC ended 2005 with $25 million in the bank.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee raised $35.5 million in 2005 and ended the year with a $10.5 million warchest. In a briefing earlier this week, NRSC Chairwoman Elizabeth Dole (N.C.) said the committee had invested heavily in donor prospecting in 2005, a strategic move that "pays off in the second year of the cycle."

Neither House committee has released their fundraising figures yet. Stay tuned for updates.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 25, 2006; 2:33 PM ET
Categories:  Democratic Party , Republican Party  
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Posted by: insurance auto | June 7, 2006 11:24 PM | Report abuse


From what you explained the plain cold hard fact is that it takes a boatload of money to elect the average modern republican. If the democrats ever achieve near parity in fundraising they tend kick electoral butt in competitive districts. That is why the success of K-street project was of such importance to the modern republicans.

You see this new republican party is not your dad's old republican party. Our old republican party believed in a balanced budget. The new GOP not on your life, they spend and spend hoping to bankrupt the government so they can grab it and "drown it in a bathtub" Grover Norquist. My old republican party believed that the government should stay out of your bedroom. The new GOP wants to criminalize family decisions like abortion or right to die decisions like "Terry Schaivo". Our old republican party used to have a lot of combat veterans elected to office who understood what war was about. The new GOP is full of Chickenhawks who got their daddies to get them into guard units safe from combat in Vietnam or chose not to serve at all and dodged the draft. That does not stop them from shamelessly smearing those who did serve honorably like John McCain, Max Cleland, John Murtha, etc., etc.,. The nations old republicans joined with democrats in a bipartisan spirit to be sure that our service men and women had the weapons needed and importantly funded real health and retirement benefits. The new GOP like to appear at military parades and have the service men and women surround them for photo ops but turn around and cut our soldiers benefits. Our old republicans believed in efficiency and honesty in government. The new GOP looks as crooked as a dogs hind leg. They believe in pork, patronage, privilege and privatization to friends and favorites with no bid contracts. Our old GOP believed in working on a bipartisan foreign policy with democrats. The new GOP although in charge when attacked by terrorist tries to blame democrats for the attack yet let's the terrorist leader live in peace so he can send us vacation videos and a booklist. Our old GOP believed in strong international alliances and worked for decades with our allies to defeat communism. Our new GOP doesn't believe in alliances just unilateralism and tries to noisily bully nations across the globe while waging a cooked up war in Iraq, thus breaking our big stick, (see the new Pentagon report). Most importantly our old republicans believed when they gave their oath of office to "preserve and protect the constitution of the United States of America" they meant it. The new GOP have become apologist for dictatorship and will excuse any calumny, any action to destroy coequal branches of the government, the Courts and Congress in a grab for executive power never seen in this country before.

Frankly this old Goldwater republican is having problems with the ethics, arrogance, lying and authoritarianism of this new GOP party. So I imagine it will take more than several boatloads of money to save these characters from the wrath of the voters. Since it has been proven by computer experts that these new voting machines can be tamperd with and results changed. I would not put it past these desperate people to turn to the suppliers of these gizmos to electronically and cheaply fix the elections this fall.

Posted by: Red Ruffian | January 26, 2006 11:17 AM | Report abuse

The GOP can raise big bucks? Big surprise!

They give hundreds of billions in corporate subsidies, be it agribusiness, defense contractors, Medicare drugs or just outright earmarks. You don't think Corporate America is going to return the favor to keep their friends who fill their troughs in power?

Raising money isn't a popularity contest. That's why America will never be a truly representative democracy until campaigns are publicly financed. Then the politicians can quit grubbing for money and selling their souls and our country's best interests.

Posted by: Axel | January 26, 2006 10:12 AM | Report abuse


Why no mention of MoveOn and other organizations that, during recent elections, contributed significant money to Democratic candidates? There was a ton of money raised from internet grassroots in 2004. I suspect this vast financial difference is not the whole story. Can you do a follow-up that looks at state parties (per an earlier comment) and outside groups supportive of party candidates (Republican and Democratic)? That would be more useful.

Posted by: Fred | January 25, 2006 9:47 PM | Report abuse


Thanks for the update. Some questions: Any way to quantitate what's happening at the state levels, compare Dem vs. Repub? Is there any historic 'evidence' suggesting that Dean's approach will be successful in the absence of approximate equivalence in National Committee funds (i.e., if the differential doesn't diminish)? Also, given the progressive 'fall-away' of American engagement with the mainstream media (TV, newspapers), are we getting closer to the point where large election year $$$$spending on campaign broadcasts become increasingly ineffective? If you don't sell candidates with internet ads and TV spots fall to the TiVo reaper, is anyone looking for a more efficient way to message and mobilize, positive or negative? Any ideas or relevant posts?

Re above posts, I agree that if "...Democratic establishment..." insiders are worried they won't be competitive, they should step up to the plate, let their names be known and get to work raising money. How does it further their cause to complain anonymously? Wonder if that's really why they are talking to you?

Posted by: Contra Republican | January 25, 2006 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Now this is some choice reporting:

"Some within the Democratic establishment worry that with such a financial gap between the committees, the DNC may not be able to play as active a role in 2006 campaign as the RNC will."

Wow. So believable. You must really have the inside scoop on these "some" within the "democratic establishment."

>>>Stay tuned for updates.

Oh, I can't wait. Maybe you can interview Deb Howell on why she thinks the Democratic Party might as well conceed the 2006 election now.

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | January 25, 2006 5:46 PM | Report abuse

AR Governor Mike Huckaby, having lost 120 pounds and being thoughtful, articulate, and with a sense of humor (and he's a conservative Republican??), looks like a strong candidate to me for 2008.

Posted by: Democratic skeptic | January 25, 2006 5:05 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans can raise more money than the Democrats? That's no surprise. They've had that capability since the Gilded Age.

Posted by: Dave Nelson | January 25, 2006 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Chris, you are killing me today.

According to the facts in an article YOU wrote last November,
Dean has cut the RNC's traditional off year fundraising advantage from 3-1 to a 2-1 advantage and raised $11 million more than McAuliffe raised in 2003.

Also, Dean's numbers come the year after a presidential election -- the worst political fundraising time possible, while McAuliffe's came during the presidential cycle. Meanwhile, the RNC's fundraising has remained static.

Dean has also been fundraising in the states, FOR the states. Past DNC chairmen would sweep into the States to raise some money and then ship the cash off the DC. Dean has garnered raves in the states for funneling that money to the local parties. As I said in an earlier note to you today, try talking to the State Democratic Chairs, e.g., do some reporting.

The worrying figure IS the Cash on Hand numbers. While it would be nice to see more transparency in the DNC's spending, the fact is that Dean has invested seriously in building up local parties. As the DNC has learned in the past, most of the "top-down" money they spent was wasted on a new building.

My suspicion is that the "some" who are worried about the role the DNC can play in this year's election are the consultants like Bob (0-7) Shrum who aren't getting rich on the contributions of Democrats.

How about you attribute the quotes of the "some" so your readers can know exactly whom in the Democratic Establishment is so concerned? Let them know that if they permit their quotes to be attributed, I'll send their campaign or their PAC some cash.

Posted by: Choska | January 25, 2006 3:43 PM | Report abuse

One other point to be made here is that there were elections this year and the Democrats won both of the big ones (VA and NJ) even with this financial differential.
I also agree that I have heard that the DNC has broken records of money raised on an off year. The other point to be made is that the RNC has alot of tapped out big donors where as the DNC has lots of smaller donors that can be tapped into over and over again.

Posted by: Andy R | January 25, 2006 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I am not for sale. My representatives are.

You elected officials are disgraceful, without shame, absent of ethics, and UNAMERICAN.


Posted by: FOR SALE: USA | January 25, 2006 3:13 PM | Report abuse

You compared the DCCC fundraising as it related to other off-years (a record), but not the DNC's. My understanding is that under Dean the DNC broke records for fundraising in an off-year, too, and even beat 2003 which preceded a presidential election as opposed to following one.

Posted by: Nathan Rudy | January 25, 2006 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for the timely report on HRC's chances. You might consider looking at Susan Estrich's book [The Case for HRC] on the subject.

I am a registered Independent, a refugee from the Republican Party, and, for what it is worth, I think she is the ONLY person on the horizon who can salvage the mess GWB has made.

As for McCain: a great guy and much needed in the legislative branch. Those who know him personally say, kindly, his temperment is not suited for the White House.

The only good thing about a Rice nomination is that the gender issue would be moot. She has never been elected to anything and has no knowledge of domestic matters. I hope she remains correctly convinced that she is not right for the job.

Thanks for your good journalism. We need you and your comparable associates in Washington.............along with Hillary.

Posted by: virginia malcolm | January 25, 2006 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Well, if the American people are gullible enough to have their votes purchased, then fear-and-smear ads will work - but we've also seen evidence that Republicans have thrown money away on campaigns like the aborted anti-AARP social security debacle.

Still, with the megachurches politicizing their agenda, the media constantly regurgitating Republican talking points, and the constant babble of non-journalists on the nations' talk radio airwaves, it's probably safe to assume that the public won't receive adequate information beyond the ad purchases to make good decisions.

It will be a campaign to violate more constitutional rights in order to "make us safe" while the Dems flinch under a repeat of the "you aren't "christian" enough" crap from the Far Right.

At least at this point, all that fundraising hasn't given the President any glowing payoff in the public opinion polls. And despite the glossing over of many reports concerning Republican cronyism and laundering scandals, the blunders on the Right are ingrained in many people's minds. All the talk of need for constitutional amendments to protect the "sanctity" of marriage sounded good until the Right disrespected the Schiavo relationship. When you lump that all together with a campaign of endless terrorist alerts, people sleeping in tents on the Gulf Coast, soldiers without body armor, a disregard for the rule of law, their own brand of truthism and Supreme Court nominees which have to be pre-screened and approved by the wackiest organizations of the "religious" Right, it's hard to imagine how $100 billion dollars of misinformation could convince people to vote again for that party.

Posted by: Kevin | January 25, 2006 2:51 PM | Report abuse

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