Over the next two weeks, fundraising numbers big and small will roll in from all over the country as campaigns celebrate success (or try to hide failure) from the first months of 2014. Here’s what we’ll be looking out for:
— Do Senate Democrats pick up the pace? Senate Dems, especially the incumbents, looked pretty solid on the cash front at the end of last year. But as Koch-connected spending against them piled up rapidly at the end of last year and the beginning of this one, many of them decided to put significant resources into early TV advertising to combat the assault from the outside with personal, image-boosting messages. Budgets may have been readjusted over the last few months.
— Do any primary challengers soar? Money is always an obstacle for primary challengers, who need to manage a certain baseline to break through. That’s why this quarter will be important, when challengers can start accruing the higher marginal benefits of that early money. Keep an eye on challengers like Seth Moulton (D) (running vs. Rep. John Tierney (D) in MA-06 and widely unknown at this point) and two Club for Growth endorsees, John Ratcliffe (TX-04) and Bryan Smith (ID-02), who are also starting from scratch and challenging GOP incumbents in May.
Battleground House districts bear watching too: As Democratic pollster Celinda Lake mentioned at a recent Christian Science Monitor breakfast, her party’s big money may shift toward saving the Senate, leaving House candidates to shoulder more of the burden on their own. Those areas will all have our focus over the next few weeks.
— Scott Bland
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Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.