Jonathan Martin is hearing that the Republican National Committee, increasingly bearish on the presidential hopes of John McCain (he has another economic plan today! Yes, another one), might "triage" and start spending money on tight Senate and House races.
That the party would use new money to block a Democratic triumph in the Senate rather than boost the odds of its presidential nominee speaks volumes about what many Republicans think is still salvageable. And some in the GOP, especially those working on House and Senate races in which their candidates' poll numbers swoon during the financial crisis, are increasingly agitated about money being spent on what all observers, including McCain, acknowledge is an uphill fight on top of the ticket.
"They should pull the money from McCain like [former RNC Chairman] Haley Barbour did in '96, when Dole slid away, and funnel it to save some Senate and House seats as best they can," said one longtime GOP strategist who is working on congressional races.
This echoes something that GOP techie Patrick Ruffini was warning about yesterday: If all of the Senate races break for the Democrats, they'll have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.
The RNC's IE unit should drop at least $15 million on 4 or 5 key Senate races that are salvageable in the last three weeks.
And the decision for Victory to stay in or pull out of states should be heavily influenced by the presence of key Senate and House contests.
And McCain should start explicitly making the argument for divided government, with him as the only hope of preserving it. This is unlikely to be a voting issue at the Presidential level, but we need to get the idea percolating that we are about to elect Obama with unchecked, unlimited power. Power corrupts… absolute power corrupts absolutely, etc.
Right now the Democrats are leading in 20 of this year's 34 Senate contests, and within the margin of error in three more. If they ran the table they'd have 62 Senate seats, enough of a cushion to send Joe Lieberman to his new offices in a Wasilla bomb shelter and still rubber-stamp every initiative of the Obama administration. The new Senate would include Al Franken, but not Elizabeth Dole.
Was this why McCain tried to raise the issue of card check for union elections in his "relaunch" speech yesterday? The need for divided government is as concrete and important an argument as you can deploy in a presidential election, but it isn't a compelling argument. This is probably why most of the McCain press releases in my inbox are still about ACORN.
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