Waste: GOP Squandered Its Money Edge

Waste: GOP Squandered Its Money Edge

Rarely has so much been spent to so little effect. 

In 2010, when the Supreme Court stood up for free speech and struck down limitations on campaign spending, the left and the media terrified themselves, imagining a flood of money supporting Republicans in the then upcoming Presidential campaign. They were only half-right. A torrent of money did flow to the Republicans and their allies, but it was mostly squandered. Outside SuperPACs lost virtually every race they targeted, despite outspending the Democrats by wide margins in some cases. This election was an epic failure of DC’s consultant class.   

The poster-child for the GOP’s waste of resources is American Crossroads, which spent upwards of $450 million on the election and lost almost every race they targeted. 

The Sunlight Foundation, which tracks money in politics, calculated Wednesday that two-thirds of the money spent by outside groups backed losing candidates. Success rates varied dramatically from group to group: American Crossroads and its nonprofit affiliate spent about 6 percent of their funds on winners, while the Service Employees International Union had a 70 percent victory rate, Sunlight found.

So, 94% of American Crossroads’ dollars were spent on losing efforts. I thought Republicans were supposed to be the more efficient stewards of money. The problem isn’t exclusively about American Crossroads, however. 

In the Senate, the conservative push was a resounding failure. Crossroads, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other GOP-leaning groups spent at least $94 million targeting Democrats Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Timothy M. Kaine (Va.), Bill Nelson (Fla.) and Jon Tester (Mont.), according to FEC data; all emerged victorious Tuesday.

There is a larger story here that, up until now, we at Breitbart have not discussed. The left thinks the Republican party is beholden to its billionaire donors. Actually, the Republican party treats these donors as easy marks. The party is actually beholden to a small cadre of political consultants and media buyers who exert total control over the party’s messaging and outreach. 

All institutional arms of the Republican party have lists of “approved” vendors and consultants. If a campaign doesn’t use someone from this list, the party will threaten to withhold financial support. If consultants on this list were competent, it wouldn’t be such a problem, but the “approved” consultants tend to produce generic, cookie-cutter campaigns. Can anyone remember a single memorable ad from a SuperPAC or GOP campaign this cycle? 

The problem is exacerbated because Republicans are addicted to broadcast TV ads as their primary means of communication. (This is mostly because it is the most lucrative for consultants, but more on that another time.) This made some sense two decades ago, when real-time TV had a lock on most viewers. But, in an age of TV-on-demand, video streaming and hundreds of cable channels, it is less efficient. According to our exit poll, two-thirds of voters made up their mind before September. So, all those hundreds of millions in ad dollars were chasing fewer and fewer voters. 

To be sure, Obama and the Democrats also spent a lot on broadcast TV, but they also committed enormous resources in direct voter contact and turning out the vote. The Republicans were several orders of magnitude less sophisticated on this front. Its a big reason why the GOP was able to spend billions on this election and win fewer votes than McCain won in 2008. 

Enormous financial resources were wasted by the GOP’s consultant class. The GOP brand itself has been badly tarnished. Over the coming weeks, we will shine a spotlight on this consultant class. We will even name names. It’s long past time the GOP rids itself of its own internal corruption. 

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