Published May 08, 2012
“…Mr. Soros and our donors recognize the advantages of face-to-face contacts during an election year where voters will see a barrage of advertising from groups they don't recognize.”
-- Statement from America Votes on a $1 million donation from billionaire currency trader George Soros.
Big-money Democrats are swinging into action to fund outside groups aimed at beefing up the already immense operations at the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Billionaire currency trader George Soros is upping the ante on the two other Democratic million-dollar men, studio boss Jeffrey Katzenberg and talk show host Bill Maher. Soros is giving $1 million each to American Bridge to the 21st Century and America Votes.
American Bridge to the 21st Century is the creation of David Brock, and is intended to be a central committee for opposition research for other Democratic groups.
Brock’s team trails Republican candidates to catch gaffes on camera and sifts through their personal histories for potential scandals. The group then provides the findings to reporters and other committees, like the PAC backing President Obama, Priorities USA.
America Votes fills a similar role, but in the work of providing permanent campaign operations for Democrats and allied groups, including unions, personal injury attorneys, pro-choice organizations and environmental and racial activists.
The group has been around since 2004 when Andy Stern, now a key Obama adviser and then-president of the Service Employees International Union, organized the collective to provide ground troops for John Kerry and other Democrats.
Since then, the group has focused on maintaining swing-state personnel ready to be reactivated and fighting voter identification laws.
The goal of these groups is entirely in line with what the Obama campaign and DNC are doing: a technologically-driven effort to fund, recruit and equip an army of supporters to get as much of Obama’s 2008 coalition back to the polls as possible.
It’s a strategy that echoes Obama’s work as a community organizer and a century of union organizing. But the efforts are technology driven, reinforcing an Obamian belief that Democrats can use social media and the Internet to target and persuade key voters in a way that Republicans cannot.
While Democrats are saying this strategy is intended to avoid being overwhelmed by Republican spending on advertising, this isn’t about saving money. It’s a very costly way to run for president -- Obama has the largest and most expensive re-election effort in history.
What this is about is an understanding that with the president trailing among independents and facing problems with the moderate suburbanites who handed him the win in 2008, Obama’s best chance for victory is to maximize the vote from his core.
The establishment press is consumed with the idea that Romney has a “narrow path.” That’s true, in the sense that he daggone well better win Ohio or he won’t win the election. But that’s been true of every Republican since Abe Lincoln.
Obama’s path is somewhat geographically narrow in that he probably needs to win three of the five big Eastern swing states: Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio and Florida.
But demographically, it’s ultra-narrow. Team Obama wants to hold down turnout for Romney in the ‘burbs and with blue-collar voters, while simultaneously squeezing out every vote from key Democratic groups: government worker unions, Hispanics, blacks, the poor, etc.
This is not a strategy for a broad victory, but a narrow one, won in Salvadoran neighborhoods in Northern Virginia, black precincts in Philadelphia and a dozen state-capital counties where AFSCME can drive turnout.
Here’s the Obama vision for the cycle: While Obama and allied groups barrage Mitt Romney with negative advertising to hold down the Republican’s margins with independents and suburbanites, Team Obama will be using its own resources and groups like the ones Soros is now funding to recruit, equip and mobilize supporters on the left.
By the fall, Obama hopes to see Democratic intensity up, Republican intensity down and smart-phone wielding campaign workers blanketing the blue precincts of purple states.
If Romney fails in his central task – to prosecute Obama’s economic record – then this kind of narrow, base-versus-base strategy can deliver a victory for Obama.
But, if Romney succeeds in keeping the discussion on the anemic economy and record deficits, there’s no amount of money, technology or organization that can keep Obama in the White House.
The Day in Quotes
"That is the president's policy. He believes that couples, heterosexual couples, – gay couples should – should have – have the same legal rights. So what the vice president was stating there was very much in keeping with that policy."
-- David Axelrod, senior political adviser to President Obama, on CNN Monday responding to Vice President Joe Biden’s assertion on Sunday that he was “absolutely comfortable” with gay marriage.
“Heaven help us, because Mourdock won’t.”
-- Unidentified senior citizen supporter of Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., in an ad from Lugar accusing his challenger in today’s Indiana primary, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, of wanting to cut “every single senior’s social security.”
-- The amount raised by Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wisc., to turn back a union-led recall effort. Democrats will pick their nominee today, likely Walker’s 2010 opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
“However, I felt that it was completely impossible for me to even consider an endorsement [with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney] until after a meeting to discuss issues critical to those of us who often feel our voices are not heard by the establishment: social conservatives, tea-party supporters, lower and middle income working families.”
-- An open letter from former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum to his supporters. Santorum offered a passive-voice endorsement of Romney [“he has my endorsement”] after a meeting between the two men so Santorum could “assess Governor Romney’s commitment” on several issues.
“Pass this bill right away!”
-- President Obama campaigning in Columbus, Ohio on Sept. 13, 2011 and more than 100 times in campaign speeches last fall. Obama will today return to his fall campaign theme of decrying congressional opposition to his plan for more domestic spending financed through higher taxes on top earners.
And Now, A Word From Charles
“Austerity brought down the government in Portugal, in Italy, in Ireland, in Spain and in Greece. But you can vote to change leadership on austerity but you can't vote against mathematics.”
-- Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News, and his POWER PLAY column appears Monday-Friday on FoxNews.com.