2010 is widely expected to be a bonanza for political spending, especially by national organizations, corporate entities and the usual suspects of out of state interests trying to have an effect on the political process.
This roaring fire of political money was made all the more significant a short time ago when the United States Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, that corporations could not be limited from funding independent political broadcasts, under first amendment protections. The controversial decision has led to some national fireworks, but has also freed up corporations to inject themselves into political advertising and spend money trying to influence elections.
More than that, a number of candidates who have become friendly with both the Republican Governors Association (RGA) and the Democratic Governors Association (DGA), as well as special interest groups have reported to me personally that they expect some national money to be coming their way this year from those organizations and groups. I’ve heard about personal pledges of money and commitments by national organizations to Maine’s race for Governor – not to mention money that could be sunk into the congressional races, and the state House and Senate races as well.
Put this on top of the already monstrous spending we were likely to see in a very energized election cycle, and the recipe was in place – for once – for there for an unusual amount of financial attention spent on Maine this election cycle.
But don’t count on it.
There are dozens of reasons why the explosion of campaign expenditures on the national scale will not be making its way toward Maine, and I would be highly doubtful national organizations will be spending much time or money in the state. But there are a couple big reasons why this is.
One of the biggest things driving political spending in this cycle is the census, and the potential for redistricting in virtually all 50 states. Very shortly, many states will be engaging in protracted wars over the re-drawing of congressional (and to a lesser extent, state house/senate) districts, which will have a major impact on the next ten years of proportional representation in Congress. There will be major differences in what the district lines will look like, with the simple variable of a Republican or Democratic Governor of a state.
For example, a great deal of states are likely to pick up (or lose) a congressional seat (sometimes two). With control of the state legislature in the hands of one party, who becomes Governor will have a major impact on how the districts are drawn. A Democrat elected governor in a state with a Republican legislature will prevent Republicans from gerrymandering the districts to provide maximum benefit for the party (ie a net pick up of seats in Congress). Likewise, a Republican getting elected in that very same state would allow for a re-drawing of the map that would likely result in the Republican Party controlling the politics of a state for a decade, or perhaps even longer. The same goes for the opposite of both of those scenarios as well.
Congressional seats matter. Not only does setting your party up favorably for Congressional seats help your influence in the House of Representatives, but if you are able to elect more members of your party to Congress, these people are the #1 source of “the bench” for any number of other political races – be they United States Senate seats, or Gubernatorial Mansions, or any number of other positions. They also help the entire party slate in their respective districts – if you have 8 popular Republicans and 5 popular Democrats in a state, when a politician runs state wide, the support level in these respective districts would immediately help a Republican candidate just by the nature of the political machine in each area. The political ripples in the pond from rigging your states Congressional district borders a certain way are rather significant, and go well beyond Congress itself.
In 2010, there are going to be bitter and bloody redistricting fights in countless states. Maine is not one of these states.
If you are the RGA, DGA, NRCC, DCCC or any of the countless organizations with political interests this year – where are you going to spend your money? The answer is obvious – you will be pouring as much money into states that will provide you the most political benefit if you win them. There are going to be battles in both blue states and red states.
States in the rust belt and great lakes region are set to lose seats by the bucket load, and both parties will want to influence those states. Both parties will be seeking to protect their seats, and making sure that the seat(s) that will be lost will be from the other party.
States in the south and west (Texas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia) – which incidentally have trended conservative – will have the same fights over the new additional representation they will be receiving. Will the new seats be drawn to benefit the growing urban markets (Democrats), or will they be gerrymandered to minimize Democratic representation and guarantee one, two or even three new seats for the GOP?
We are talking about the potential to give one party a twenty or thirty member swing just based off of redistricting. That process will influence the next decade of politics in this country, and the Governors and state legislatures will be at the front lines of this.
Maine will not be gaining, or losing any seats due to the 2010 census. When Maine’s districts are redrawn (if any significant changes are made at all), there is really only so much that can be done to benefit one party over another. It is highly unlikely that the Democrats could gerrymander the two districts to be any more beneficial to them, and it is also highly unlikely that the Republicans – even if they took over the state legislature and Blaine House – could redrawn the districts to force out Michaud or Pingree and elect a Republican. Their best bet is to try to elect one in the districts that already exist.
Which is all to say that there is really no return on investment for Maine in this cycle. But more than that, the ROI from other states is so incredibly high, that every last penny that could possibly be sent to any of those important locations will be sent there. This is a unique cycle that will see a highly segmented percentage of money doled out to specific “battleground” states, and Maine simply will not be one of them.
Will the RGA or DGA, corporations (who care above all about their businesses, and will care about redistricting just as much as the party committees) or any of the other groups spend money here? Undoubtedly. But for any candidate on either side of the fence who is banking on an infusion of cash coming to the Pine Tree State to help them with their campaigns, I have a piece of advice for you:
Go raise more money on your own, because the coffers will be pretty dry this year.