National Dems and GOP pulling ad money out of Michigan


In the past couple of days both the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee (RSCC) have pulled campaign ad buys out of Michigan. The RSCC, seeing the handwriting on the wall regarding Terri Lynn Land’s “circling the drain” campaign, pulled out of their support of her:

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has cut the remaining television it had reserved in Michigan amid signs former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) is having trouble catching Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.).

The NRSC’s independent expenditure arm has canceled television reservations for the last two weeks of the campaign, pulling more than $850,000 out of the state, The Hill has confirmed.

Peters has had a consistent lead over Land in public polling since early summer in the Democratic-leaning state, with a lead outside the margin of error in most recent polling, and Republican strategists privately concede that she’s struggled.

“No one should be surprised to see us make a significant investment in this race in the coming days and weeks. However, right now the other outside allied groups have Michigan well covered,” Ron Bonjean, a consultant to the NRSC Independent Expenditure Committee, tells The Hill. “We will be making more decisions on the race during the next four weeks and strongly believe Terri Lynn Land will be a US Senator on November 4th.”

Bonjean said the NRSC is “monitoring this state very closely and think[s] that Terri Lynn has an excellent chance to win.”

As if.

On the Democratic side, the DCCC is pulling ad buys in the 7th District (Pam Byrnes), the 8th District (Eric Schertzing), and the 11th District (Bobby McKenzie):

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is canceling a reservation for a week’s worth of television ads it had reserved in three U.S. House races in or around Metro Detroit, a campaign aide briefed on the matter told The Detroit News.

Capitol Hill publication Roll Call reported Monday that the Democratic group was canceling ads it planned for Michigan’s 7th, 8th and 11th districts — respectively involving GOP U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg of Tipton as well as Republican primary winners Mike Bishop of Rochester, the former state Senate majority leader, and Birmingham foreclosure attorney Dave Trott. […]

A Lansing TV ad reservation from Oct. 21 to Nov. 4 is still on the books for $290,000 but the DCCC aide said the group could still opt to cancel. A Lansing commercial buy would likely target the Schertzing-Bishop race in the 8th district, which includes Ingham County. […]

The DCCC hasn’t canceled an ad reservation for Michigan’s first district, where Democratic challenger Jerry Cannon of Traverse City is targeting Congressman Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls.

None of these races appears to be the blowout that the Land/Peters Senate race increasingly is. Although there has been no polling of the 7th District race, Walberg is running a stealth campaign while Byrnes has been building a huge GOTV ground game that’s unprecedented in an midterm election year. (I know this because I am part of it, canvassing for Byrnes twice a week.) Schertzing’s most recent internal poll has him nearly tied with Bishop and McKenzie’s most recent poll shows a tight race there, as well.

DCCC committee regional press secretary Brandon Lorenz explains their decision:

Ad reservations are changing every week, and Pam Byrnes, Eric Schertzing and Bobby McKenzie are running aggressive campaigns in a tough climate that exposes the records of Tim Walberg, Mike Bishop and David Trott, who are prioritizing the special interests over the middle class.

I contacted the Byrnes campaign and campaign manager Karen Defilippi had this to say:

Changes in ad reservations are pretty standard. We’re worried less about the DCCC and more about the fact that Congressman Walberg still hasn’t explained keeping his $174,000 salary while voting to shut down the government or why he promotes drilling in the Great Lakes. We’re running an aggressive campaign to hold Congressman Walberg accountable for putting special interests before Michigan families, and voters across the 7th District support Pam because they know she will reform Washington.

The DCCC is clearly focusing on other races where their money can have a bigger impact. They have invested heavily in Michigan’s GOTV effort and their support has enabled the Michigan Democratic Party to put a Coordinated Campaign organization together that is more like a presidential election year GOTV operation than the type typically seen during a midterm election. Because of this, polling of “likely voters” may well underestimate how well Democrats will do because the MDP’s focus is on encouraging those voters who are less likely to vote in midterm elections to go to the polls this November. MDP Chair Lon Johnson frequently cites the 990,000 known Democrats who failed to vote in 2010. If the Coordinated Campaign is successful in turning out these “sporadic voters” with their GOTV effort, Democrats stand to gain ground in a big way in this election.

Republicans in Michigan aren’t doing themselves any favors with their messaging. Their opposition to marriage equality (Walberg was inducted into the Human Rights Campaign’s “Wall of Shame” today), repeated votes against legislation to guarantee a woman’s right to a safe, legal abortion as well as equal pay for equal work, and, of course, their stated desire to end Obamacare, they are on the wrong side of many of the main issues of the day. In the 7th District, for example, three out of the five people running said they would repeal the Affordable Care Act. Incumbent Tim Walberg had this remarkable comment:

Until the Affordable Care Act can be repealed, we need to do our best to protect citizens from the law.

Protect millions of citizens from better access to affordable health insurance? Protect young people from staying on their parents’ health insurance until they’re 26? Protect people with pre-existing conditions from obtaining health insurance? Walberg is clearly out of touch.

I’m increasingly convinced that campaign ads are having an every-decreasing impact on our elections. Many people, myself included, have cancelled their cable service and rely on internet television exclusively. These people never see the television advertising that is blanketing the commercial television screens. That, coupled with the Democrats’ enhanced GOTV program, means that outcomes in many races may be surprises come November 5th.