We frequently discuss fundraising results here on Colorado Pols, because in politics, fundraising matters more than well…anything, really. You can have all the grassroots and volunteer support in the world, but as many a candidate has found, none of that really matters unless you have enough money to both run a campaign and reach out to voters (largely through television ads).
But as we watch the money continue to pour into the various candidates and issue committees in CD-6, we've started to wonder: When all sides are raising and spending ridiculous sums of money, at what point does the financial piece of ad spending stop moving the needle? In other words, if there is a "Tipping Point" in fundraising, is there also a "Leveling Point?"
As Kurtis Lee of the Denver Post reported today, the race for Congress in CD-6 is getting pretty expensive already:
In an effort to preserve and pick-up as many House seats as possible this November, the National Republican Congressional Committee plans to spend upwards of $30 million in TV ad buys, with the largest buy carved out for the Denver media market.
The NRCC has reserved $3.3 million in TV ad space to aid incumbent GOP Congressman Mike Coffman as he defends his Aurora-based 6th Congressional District seat. Coffman, who is vying for a fourth-term, is being challenged by Democrat Andrew Romanoff, a former speaker of the Colorado House…
…By contrast, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to date has reserved $1.4 million in the Denver market this fall to help Romanoff.
Per the most recently-available campaign finance reports, Democrat Andrew Romanoff has about $2.3 million in cash on hand, compared to $1.96 million for incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Coffman, but those figures are starting to become largely meaningless as third-party spending levels increase. According to OpenSecrets.org, more than $6 million has been raised by Romanoff and Coffman — the fourth-highest total of any House race in the country. If we include the money already pledged by the NRCC and the DCCC, respectively, we've already surpassed $10 million — and that doesn't include what has already been spent or pledged by third-party groups.
According to Roll Call, the most expensive House race in 2012 was for Florida's 18th District, with combined spending from candidates and outside groups adding up to $29 million; the campaign for Republican Rep. Allen West raised and spent nearly $18 million alone, however, making that race a bit of an outlier. The next four most-expensive races on Roll Call's list were in the $15-17 million range — a figure that the 2014 race for CD-6 should obliterate by about August.
There was some discussion following the 2012 Presidential Race about the idea that both President Obama and Mitt Romney raised and spent so much money that they were almost cancelling each other out on television; what ultimately made the difference, in terms of resources, was probably the Obama Campaign's unprecedented list-building and voter-ID programs. (This would only be true for the General Election, of course, since fundraising is still vitally important during the long and plodding Primary process).
From our vantage point, it is quite possible that campaign spending in CD-6 will end up being a non-factor in deciding the outcome of the race. If that proves true, it will be other intangibles that make the difference in November. It's difficult to try to guess what will ultimately be the next "Tipping Point" in the race, which is where you come in, Polsters. What say you? If the money ends up being about even, what will push one candidate past the other?