Mellman: Is the DCCC in successful chaos?

Mellman: Is the DCCC in successful chaos?
© Greg Nash

Two members of Congress recently complained that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is “in chaos.”

Turmoil certainly ensued, but I’m not able to evaluate whether chaos reigned at the time it was alleged. 

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One thing no one can argue with, though, is the success the committee has had putting House Democrats in a strong position to hold their majority.

RealClearPolitics’s simple average of recent polls shows an 8-point margin for Democrats in the generic House vote, a question asking whether respondents would vote for the Democrat or the Republican for Congress in their districts. 

Fivethirtyeight.com massages the data a bit more and calculates a 6-point edge for Democrats.

Either way it, it’s a big lead. 

At the end of the 2018 cycle, RealClearPolitics posted an average lead for Democrats of 7.3 points while Fivethirtyeight.com pegged it at 8.3 points. 

Democrats won the actual national House vote by 8.6 points and picked up 41 seats.

One model predicts the current numbers would lead to a net gain of seven more seats for Democrats, while a more pessimistic Charlie Cook believes “the most likely outcome is a minimal net change to a Republican gain of ten seats,” which would still leave Democrats in control of the chamber.

One could reasonably argue these standings have little to do with the DCCC and a lot to do with President TrumpDonald John TrumpWHCA calls on Trump to denounce video depicting him shooting media outlets Video of fake Trump shooting members of media shown at his Miami resort: report Trump hits Fox News's Chris Wallace over Ukraine coverage MORE and the nation’s political environment, though these have been well navigated by the DCCC and the congressional leadership.

Fundraising, field and recruiting are more direct outgrowths of committee activities.

Repeatedly breaking fundraising records, the DCCC outraised the National Republican Congressional Committee by over $17 million so far this year. 

Just as important, the DCCC’s great staff has worked closely with individual campaigns to ensure they raise the money they need to prevail in 2020. 

The results are breathtaking.

Each of the 62 freshmen House Democrats raised more money than any of their opponents. That’s also true for all 31 Democrats representing districts Trump won in 2016 and for the 39 Democrats who captured Republican-held seats.

In fact, it’s not even close. Most of these Democrats are lapping their leading challengers in the money chase.

Twenty-six of the 62 Democratic freshmen already brought in $1 million or more. Thirteen of the 31 Democrats who won Trump districts and 23 of the 39 Democrats who took away GOP seats also collected more than $1 million.

All told, Democratic House candidates raised $17.6 million more than Republicans between April and June, according to a Washington Post analysis.

Of course, there’s plenty of time until November 2020. But the one House race that will take place in just six weeks does not bode well for Republicans. Their candidate, Dan Bishop, has raised a mere $184,000 while Democrat Dan McCready has banked more than $1.5 million.

Putting their financial advantage to work, in March, the DCCC deployed its largest early field program yet, putting 60 organizers in key districts across 14 states.  

Recruiting is another front on which the DCCC has excelled. 

Republicans’ chief candidate recruiter, Rep. Susan BrooksSusan Wiant BrooksHere are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 Pelosi: GOP retirements indicate they'll be in the minority, with Democrat in the White House The Hill's 12:30 Report: House panel approves impeachment powers MORE of Indiana, not only abandoned her critical position but announced she was leaving the House altogether. Not exactly an inspiration to GOPers she was trying to cajole into running against these Democrats. 

And other GOPers have followed suit, putting at risk more of the seats they hold. 

By contrast, in January, the DCCC released list of 33 GOP-held districts they thought were vulnerable in 2020 and strong Democratic candidates have already emerged in most of them. 

I can’t say whether the DCCC was in chaos internally, but if so, it’s about the most successful chaos I’ve ever seen.   

Mellman is president of The Mellman Group and has helped elect 30 U.S. senators, 12 governors and dozens of House members. Mellman served as pollster to Senate Democratic leaders for over 20 years and as president of the American Association of Political Consultants.