The DCCC built the largest battlefield in over a decade, targeting more than 100 seats and investing in more than 80 districts. This historically large investment has created multiple paths to the majority, including through districts that President Trump won by double digits. Democrats are prepared to win in a combination of geographically, demographically and politically diverse districts on Tuesday.
Historic Investment in the General Election and Primaries
The DCCC has placed a premium on recruiting and empowering women and diverse candidates. The numbers tell a powerful story.
- DCCC investment in 85 districts, with at least ~$100K per district
- DCCC investment in female candidates: $ 63.2M
- DCCC investment in diverse, non-white candidates: $39M
- DCCC investment in veteran candidates: $ 25.59M
- DCCC investment in LGBTQ candidates: $9.23M
Key Dates for Aggressive Battlefield Expansion, to Put GOP on their Heels
Given the structural disadvantage of running on Republican drawn district lines, we knew it was a strategic imperative to build a huge battlefield and give Democrats multiple paths to the majority. The DCCC started laying out an aggressive battlefield in January 2017 – well before we had candidates to run in those places. But we set our bar for success high.
In order to make the battlefield a reality, we recruited candidates with deep records of service and independent profiles who can win in tough districts. As a result of successful recruitment and early investments, we put Republicans on defense, including in deeply red districts. With the NRCC and CLF making a round of last minute investments deep into the battlefield, it’s clear that the strategy of spreading Republicans thin financially has already worked.
TIMELINE OF DCCC’s HISTORICALLY LARGE BATTLEFIELD:
- January 30, 2017 – 59 Districts
- The Hill: House Dems campaign arm signals early ’18 targets
- May 22, 2017 – 71 districts
- Roll Call: Democrats Expanding Battlefield into Trump Country
- June 21, 2017: DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján Declared “House is in Play” the day after the GA-06 Special Election. Read his memo HERE
- November 9, 2017 – 91 districts
- Politico: Democrats scour map for sleeper races
Following their Election Day romp in Virginia, New Jersey and a handful of other states, Democrats rushed to fan the prospect of a wave election in 2018.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee quickly added 11 more Republican-held districts — long-shot seats that aren’t typically in play — to its existing list of 80 targeted races. Candidates in those newly added seats got a sudden dose of fundraising and organizational assistance, in addition to help with budgeting and media operations.
The incumbent Republicans in those seats, some of them unaccustomed to vigorous challenges, are already feeling the squeeze.
- February 6, 2018 – 101 districts
Even as generic congressional ballot polling has indicated that Republicans are making up some ground ahead of 2018 midterm election, Democrats are widening their targets and a nonpartisan analysis shows that more GOP incumbents might be at risk.
On Thursday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee expanded its House battleground list to 101 Republican-held seats, an increase from its targets as of November 2017.
“We have a long way to to go and won’t take anything for granted, but are on track to take back the House in November,” DCCC Chairman Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) said in a statement.
In what it’s calling the largest battlefield in a decade, the DCCC added seven targets, including races in South Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, and Texas. This decision was bolstered by the DCCC’s own polling that showed President Trump underwater in a number of Republican districts in addition to the 23 GOP districts Hillary Clinton carried in 2016, according to a report by NBC News.
- May 31, 2018 – 104 districts
- June 10, 2018 – 111 districts
What They’re Saying – Dems’ Big Battlefield Successfully Stretches GOP Thin, Creates Opportunity for Wins Deep into Map
National Journal: House Democrats’ Fundraising Juggernaut Stuns GOP
Republicans analyzing the new filings conceded they confirmed what Democrats have claimed since the beginning of the cycle—the battlefield is growing to massive proportions. In recent weeks, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee booked air time in deep red territory in central and western Pennsylvania, as well as Arkansas—three districts where incumbents were outraised
POLITICO: GOP floods new House seats with cash in late rescue effort
It’s also a troubling sign for the GOP’s prospects of keeping the House. Most of Republicans’ new defensive fortifications are coming in districts where the GOP has won easily in the past and has been expected to do so again in 2018, and Democrats have not considered them top targets or must-wins on their path to flip 23 seats and retake the House majority. While Republicans in some districts have benefited from Trump’s rising approval rating and a boost of energy following Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, the new ad spending shows that Democrats are still making inroads into a range of Republican-held seats, including some where the GOP candidates are getting massively outspent.
[…] House Democrats portrayed Republicans’ new financial infusion as a sign their party was expanding the map, cutting into GOP territory that many leaders viewed as safe and many political analysts long considered “likely” or “lean” Republican seats.
NYT: Republicans Abandon Vulnerable Lawmakers, Striving to Keep House
There are between 60 and 70 Republican-held districts that are being seriously contested, and Democrats, boosted by strong fund-raising, have been expanding their television advertising in conservative-leaning districts in an effort to stretch Republicans thin.
[…] Democrats believe Republicans will not be able to shrink the House battlefield: Democratic groups have taken an aggressive approach to the map, probing Republican vulnerability even in districts that tilt to the right. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently began advertising in six conservative-leaning seats, from rural Pennsylvania to the suburbs of Little Rock, Ark., where they see Republicans slipping.
National Journal: Growing Map Means More Trouble for House GOP
Despite an enthusiasm boost among red-state conservatives, outside GOP groups are still scrambling to protect rank-and-file members who looked in solid shape several months ago.
[…] They cite the record fundraising from individual Democratic candidates—a Democratic “green wave,” as Ryan now calls it—forcing late investments to make up the financial disparities. But the flurry of cash in GOP-friendly areas also underscores how big the map of targets has grown, forcing any Republican running in a remotely competitive district to worry about their political future.
Privately, Republican leaders expect to lose around 30 seats—and the House majority—but acknowledge that there could be a number of unexpected outcomes pushing those numbers higher on election night. That’s an all-too-realistic scenario, given the supercharged liberal engagement in districts across the country, lackluster reelection efforts from unprepared GOP members of Congress, and impressive fundraising figures from even long-shot Democratic challengers.
Reuters: Republicans fear Democratic ‘blue wave’ spreading to once-safe districts
“Republicans are playing defense in more and more places,” said Doug Heye, a former official at the Republican National Committee. “The Democrats’ map continues to get bigger. The Republicans’ map continues to get smaller. That’s a real problem.”
Democrats have poured resources not only into Brat’s district, but others that have come onto their battleground list, in places such as Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Southern California and other parts of Virginia such as the district currently represented by Republican Scott Taylor.
McClatchy: After money surge, GOP frets Democrats can ‘buy rage in bulk’
Now armed with an influx of campaign cash, Democrats have the resources to push even further into longtime Republican territory.
[…] Adding to the Democrats’ advantage is the fact that candidates are able to run TV ads for less money than party committees like the National Republican Congressional Committee (the political arm of the House GOP) or Super PACs like Congressional Leadership Fund (a group with close ties to House Speaker Paul Ryan). The disparity could strain the resources of those groups, and allow Democrats to try and target even more battlegrounds.
[….] The massive Democratic hauls in key districts give the national party and outside Democratic groups the space to expand their resources, and their map, further, Stutzman warned.
“National committees often come in and do big get-out-the-vote-type programs. It could be, in this instance, the campaigns handle it themselves,” he said. “It allows the playing field to stay extended for the Democrats and squeezes Republicans. Democrats will have a plausible luxury, now, to go elsewhere in the country–wherever there’s an opportunity.”
National Journal: Massive House Map Continues to Grow
Democrats are finding compelling evidence that a new set of Republican-held seats are becoming increasingly competitive, stretching an already expansive map.
Internal Democratic polling conducted in August and September revealed the party’s candidate leading or trailing by small margins in a dozen seats on the outer edges of the battlefield. And outside money is already starting to flow beyond the 50 or so districts that initially drew major TV ad reservations.
[…] Democrats worked hard early in the cycle to land strong recruits even in districts with tough demographics, and dozens of them have been able to build credible campaigns.
The Hill: House battlefield expands as ad wars hit new peak
Voters across the country are being deluged by an onslaught of television advertising as candidates and big-spending outside groups dump millions of dollars on a growing battleground that stretches from the North Maine Woods to the posh suburbs of San Diego.
[…] Democrats have expanded their advertising spending to some districts where the party has rarely competed in recent years, a sign that the party feels ambitious after public and private polling that shows President Trump is deeply unpopular and voters want Congress to act as a check.
“We knew all along that we wanted to build a massive battlefield, toward the goal of stretching the Republicans financially,” said Meredith Kelly, a DCCC spokeswoman. She said Democrats expected Republicans to have a spending edge, but “we wanted that advantage to be diluted in as many districts as possible.”
The Hill: Expanding map creates tough choices for GOP
The House GOP’s campaign arm is facing tough choices about where to shift precious resources in the midterm elections, as Republicans desperately try to stave off a potential blue wave this November.
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) must decide how much focus should be placed on competitive and Democratic-leaning districts that Hillary Clinton carried — or if the party should put more energy into protecting solid GOP seats that could be in danger if a wave materializes this fall.
[…] Fifty-four Democratic challengers outraised 43 GOP incumbents in the last quarter of 2017, according to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), a figure that has further stepped up anxiety among Republicans fighting to keep the House.