Although ballots are still being counted in a handful of 2014 midterm elections, at least one Democrat super PAC is getting a jump on the 2016 presidential contest. On Monday, the left-wing American Bridge released what it calls a “media guide to the Republican presidential bench.” News producers and editors are no doubt bookmarking the 194-page opposition research dump.
The report is not so much a research document as a compendium of media talking points on 20 potential candidates for the Republican nomination. It wonders, for example, whether Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will “end collective bargaining nationally,” notwithstanding the fact that federal employees generally do not possess collective bargaining rights. The report also suggests asking Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul about the feasibility of the gold standard, a monetary position long associated with his father.
American Bridge is the multi-million dollar brain-child of left-wing hit man David Brock, founder of Media Matters, an organization enforcing doctrinaire leftism among the nation’s journalists. While Media Matters has to try to maintain a pretense of being non-partisan, Bridge is free to employ the same tactics against Republicans.
The paucity of hard research in the document does not obscure the fact that there are considerable resources behind Bridge. George Soros contributed $1,000,000 to help launch the organization. Donations from wealthy investors, philanthropists, and unions helped the super PAC spend $16 million during the 2014 midterms. This amount is likely just a down payment on its planned spending to help Democrats hold the White House in 2016.
Given that much of the media operates as an undisclosed super PAC for Democrats on its own, American Bridge will have some success with its snarky soundbites. Phil Griffin, the head of MSNBC, is probably already penciling in his primetime lineup, with an eye on the Bridge report.
Still, the release of the report so early in the cycle underscores the difficult environment Democrats will likely face in 2016. Winning a third White House term is difficult, even if the incumbent president is popular. Based on history, it is unlikely that President Obama’s approval ratings will improve in any meaningful way over the next 18 months. Clearly, Democrats believe they will have to smear any Republican candidate to prevail.
There is another, less noticed, aspect of the report that details the Democrats’ challenge. The report provides at least a snapshot of 20 potential GOP contenders. Twenty. Besides the presumptive Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton, how many Democrats have a credible case to make as a national candidate? If Clinton runs in 2016, she is far more vulnerable than many Democrats would like to admit.
Say what one will about the individual GOP candidates; at least the party has an actual bench. Democrats have a one-legged footstool.