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Dems' Ad Moves Signal House Battle Is Heating Up

The battle for control of the House is a regular topic here on The Fix, with posts laying out the seats in play, the fundraising numbers for party committees and candidates and the strategic jockeying on both sides. But our coverage for the past nine months has been low-key compared to what it will be in the final four months of campaign 2006.

2006 Election -- Interactive Map
Interactive Campaign Map: More Election Data and Analysis.

The first sign that we're nearing election primetime is word received here that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has begun reserving television time in districts across the country. The details of the committee's buying is only starting to seep out now, but we know that ad time has been reserved in Florida's 22nd District, where state Sen. Ron Klein (D) is challenging Rep. Clay Shaw (R).

The DCCC is also booking TV time in Arizona's 8th District, where Rep. Jim Kolbe's (R) retirement has set off a competitive race. By next week we should have a better sense of the entirety of the DCCC ad buys, which will provide us a window into the committee's target list heading toward the 2006 midterms. The National Republican Congressional Committee has not yet placed national ad buys and likely will not do so before next month.

Reserving time does not equal buying time. Party committees traditionally reserve more time in more places than they wind up using -- they pay television stations for the advertising the week before it is scheduled to run and then only on a week-to-week basis. That means that if a race becomes less competitive in the final two weeks, the DCCC can cancel its reserved time there and move its ad dollars elsewhere. No financial penalty is incurred by cancelling time, but it can lead other stations in other media markets to demand they be paid up front for the entirety of the ad buy, which is within their legal right but rarely done. (I wrote about this biennial winnowing process for Roll Call during the 2004 cycle; the link is subscription-only.)

Currently, the only race where both committees are running ads is in Indiana's 8th District, where Vanderburgh County Sheriff Brad Ellsworth (D) is taking on Rep. John Hostettler (R). The DCCC is also up with a radio ad in New Mexico's 1st District, where Rep. Heather Wilson (R) is being challenged by state Attorney General Patricia Madrid (D).

Here's The Fix's latest ranking of competitive House races.

By Chris Cillizza  |  July 12, 2006; 4:58 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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Next: Romney Plants $eeds in South Carolina


Just left a comment on another. Hadn't seen latest poll on OH-02, this one will be MEAN.

Posted by: lylepink | July 14, 2006 6:15 AM | Report abuse

I am in WV and the OH-02 is getting a little play here. Whether or not Mean Jean can hold this seat is doubtful in an overly, about 60 or 65 REP District. Waiting for the mud-sling-race to get going, should be of interest.

Posted by: lylepink | July 14, 2006 6:03 AM | Report abuse

I would simply like to point out the the RNC has not really outraised the DNC by a really huge amount, the DNC has simply spent the money it collected, unlike the RNC which is hoarding it. Ultimately, I think the moves Dean is making will pay off, even if it does cost us a race or 2 right now.

Posted by: Rob Millette | July 13, 2006 8:05 PM | Report abuse

What I want to know is, how does all of this relate to CONDI??????

We already had a Che sighting, I'm just waiting for Tina and the Condi Cabal.

Back on topic (at least vis a vis the comment), I would love to see Jean Schmidt hoisted on her own petard. I can still see her Wicked Witch of the West visage sneering, "Cowards cut and run, Marines never do!!"

Posted by: Venicemenace | July 13, 2006 12:52 PM | Report abuse

The RNC is always going to outpace the DNC because the republicans are the party of global coorporations, which is where the big money, after all, is. That's the sad fact of it. Howard Dean is doing the best possible job under the sad circumstances of where America politics are today.

Posted by: Drindl | July 13, 2006 11:08 AM | Report abuse

While I am excited that the DCCC and the DSCC are raising tons of money for the candidates and are tied, if not ahead, of their Republican counterparts, I am VERY disappointed in the DNC. They are being far out-paced by the RNC in raising money. I always questioned Howard Dean's abilities, and this proves that he is failing in a very important aspect of helping to elect Democrats.

Posted by: Political Junkie | July 13, 2006 10:31 AM | Report abuse

adam - I was in Toledo and I saw the ad there as well so I guess he's running it statewide. I literally laughed out loud when it said "'INDEPENDENT' fighter for Ohio" or whatever it was at the end, but the word 'independent' stuck out like a sore thumb. Hilarious how all the repubs up for reelection won't even state that they are republicans in their tv ads yet they have no problem (like Dewine) accepting millions of dollars raised for them by Bush and Cheney and won't allow themselves to be photographed with either the Prez or VP.

Posted by: Ohio guy | July 12, 2006 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Slightly unrelated to this topic, but Senator Dewine is already running ads in the Columbus area. He's showing himself with a bunch of firefighters, and trying to emphasize political independence. No mention of conservative values or being a Republican.

Posted by: adam | July 12, 2006 10:59 PM | Report abuse

From Taegan Goddard's Political Wire:

In Ohio, Poll Shows Schmidt in Close Race

Political Wire obtained results of a Momentum Analysis (D) poll that shows Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) tied with Victoria Wulsin (D) in their race for Congress, 44% to 44% with 11% undecided.

From the polling memo: "Our recent polling shows this race to be dead even, and Congresswoman Jean Schmidt to be one of the more vulnerable incumbents in the country. These data conservatively estimate party self-identification (47% Republican, 34% Democrat) and registration (45% Republican, 23% Democrat). But despite that, our results clearly show Schmidt suffering not only in a weak anti-Republican climate, but also from a negative image of her own creation. In fact, Schmidt is less popular than embattled President George W. Bush. Democratic candidate Victoria Wulsin is in a strong position to capture this seat in November."

Looks like Ohio Democrats now have at least 4 great pick-up opportunities in November as OH-02 is now at least as competitive as OH-01, OH-15 and OH-18.

Posted by: Ohio guy | July 12, 2006 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget the poll numbers in OH-O2. Schmidt and Wulsin tied at 43-43!!

Posted by: Lois | July 12, 2006 7:51 PM | Report abuse

I expect the DCCC to go all out this year. The cash advantage is going to play well this year.

Posted by: Rob Millette | July 12, 2006 7:03 PM | Report abuse

I would expect huge DCCC ad buys in the Louisville, Kentucky market. This market covers 5 races that the Democrats could win. Two southern Indiana races where Brad Ellsworth and Baron Hill both lead by double digits in recent polls, Ky's 3rd district where John Yarmuth is up by a point over Anne Northup, and also covers part of Kentucky's 4th and 2nd districts where Ken Lucas leads Geoff Davis by double digits and Colonel Mike Weaver is climbing on Ron Lewis with the fundraising help of Wesley Clark and Steny Hoyer, while Lewis was forced to bring in Dick Cheney this week...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 12, 2006 6:08 PM | Report abuse

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