Sorry, media and Republicans, but no. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) talking point is not what’s going on.
Unlike the national Republican Party pulling out of Michigan because their candidate is such a fail, the national Democratic Party is not abandoning Alison Lundergan Grimes (D-KY) just because they are moving a lot of ad money to other races. They are investing in the unprecedented ground game in Kentucky. Investing is the opposite of pulling out.
Kentucky Democrats confirmed that the DSCC had not reserved ad time past what they had already paid for, so there was no advertising to “pull”. This entire narrative only works if Grimes were a bad candidate, but she is an excellent candidate in a race marked as a toss up. Furthermore, Guy Cecil, the Executive Director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee tweeted that he just signed a $300,000 wire to help get out the vote for Alison in Kentucky:
Just signed a $300,000 wire for the KY Get Out The Vote operation for @AlisonForKY. That's an interesting view of "pulling out of the race"
— Guy Cecil (@guycecil) October 15, 2014
Allow me to translate for you, since the media seems incapable of understanding GROUND GAME, even after their epic humiliation in 2012. A get out the vote operation is more important than Koch dollars, ultimately, because Koch dollars can buy you TV ads that sell lies, but they still can’t vote.
A Grimes campaign official confirmed their superior grassroots organization with me in an email — check out these numbers and you’ll understand why Mitch McConnell was desperate to sell his “Democrats pull out of Kentucky” talking point to a willing media:
Nearly 4,000 volunteers across KY
Reached out to nearly 400,000 voters thus far
Over 3,000 meetings held with individual supporters (1:1s)
Over 30 offices or staging locations for GOTV across the state
Those are impressive numbers. They are unprecedented in Kentucky, according to the campaign official. But it’s not just campaign officials making this case. Democrats around the country are modeling the 2014 midterms on the successful Obama ground game effort of 2012. They keep explaining their strategy but just like in 2012, no one is listening. They will listen when the election results confound them.
The Democrats are spending money on the ground game. They watched Obama do it in successfully in 2012 against all expectations, so they decided to apply it in a midterm election. Alison Lundergan Grimes had a solid debate against Mitch McConnell, in which the Obamacare issue he had planned to pummel her with actually worked against him.
McConnell was left trying to explain to Kentuckians that he would leave their Obamacare website (aka, Kynect), but just take away all of the access to insurance it offers. In other words, Mitch is coming for your Medicaid and private affordable health insurance. This is not a WIN for the Republican, so he is left trying to depress morale for Grimes’ turnout.
The national Democrats are moving ad money to other races because the “GOP wave” the media has been selling is at best an uphill battle, and several races that didn’t seem likely pick ups for Democrats have turned into real battles (see Georgia, for example, where the DSCC is planning to spend an additional $1 million based on Nunn’s good polling).
Sec. of State Grimes is setting records with her fundraising with $4.9 million raised. She doesn’t need the DSCC’s help as much as some of the other candidates do. Jason Easley wrote this morning that Grimes is not only setting records but her money is coming from small donors, which translates to actual voters:
Grimes has more cash ($4.4 million) than any other Democrat in a competitive Senate race. Her money has impressively come from 164,264 donors who gave $50 or less. The median contribution is $25, and she has gotten contributions from all 120 counties in Kentucky.
Small donors are actual people who vote, not Koch money trying to trick and buy a vote for Mitch McConnell so that he can kill Kynect and keep obstructing middle class America.
There’s also the thought, based on studies, that at a certain point, negative ads work against a candidate. We saw that in 2012 with Mitt Romney. The mere support of the Koch brothers is hurting Republican Senatorial candidate Joni Ernst in Iowa.
The national Democrats saw a strong candidate thrash a 30 year veteran of the Senate in a televised debate. Grimes is setting records fundraising with actual voters. This is a race within her grasp, and Democrats are not abandoning Grimes.
Just as the Obama team kept their eye on the ball and focused on local turnout as the media waxed lyrical about an imaginary horse race, so to is the Grimes campaign. Motivated voters will determine this election, and that is why Republicans are working so hard to depress the morale of the independents, Democrats and even Republicans who will be turning out for Grimes on November 4th.
It’s been years since Mitch McConnell has inspired anyone. It’s going to be tough, but Grimes can win this race with a little help from real people.
Tonight, we’ll be live streaming as Hillary Clinton campaigns for Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.