Both the Republican Party of Minnesota and the Minnesota DFL have closed out their third quarter of state and federal fundraising with healthy cash balances.
The GOP reports that it raised $3.8 million so far this year, its strongest fundraising period since 2008. As of September 30, the party had $619,000 cash on hand.
The DFL is in even better shape. With contributions of more than $6 million this year, the party reported having more than $1.1 million in cash on hand.
The question now, with the election four weeks away, is how they spend it. The answer is that both parties will focus on what they do best – getting the base of the party to show up to vote.
Get-out-the vote mail, phone calls, and encouraging use of absentee ballots are crucial for both parties for different reasons. Republican candidate for governor Jeff Johnson and U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden are trailing Gov. Mark Dayton and U.S. Senator Al Franken, and the Republican party needs every vote from every member of the faithful to keep the top of the ticket within striking distance of their opponents.
Furthermore, Republicans need only a net gain of seven seats to regain control of the Minnesota House. According to a MinnPost analysis, twenty seats are in play, so a strong Republican turnout improves the odds that the GOP can pick up enough seats to win the House majority.
Because of the toss-up races in the Legislature, though, the DFL won’t take turnout for granted, and will spend money the same mail, phone call, and absentee ballot mechanisms. While statewide office incumbents appear to be holding comfortable leads, non-presidential-year elections are tricky for the party in power. Conventional wisdom holds that the opposition voters are more motivated, though it’s also the case that the Democrats have long been far more sophisticated when it comes to both tactics and tools employed in getting out the vote.
Adding to the need for a strong DFL voter-turnout effort is the concern over President Obama’s flagging approval ratings. The most loyal of the Democratic voters will go to the polls, but the DFL must energize a broader base, and national polls have suggested may be just enough disenchanted with Obama that Democratic voters stay home on November 4.
Spending on television and radio advertising is a luxury only the DFL can afford. The party has already started what it’s said will be a million dollar broadcast campaign on behalf of Dayton.
The Republican party, while it may get additional money to finance broadcast ads, is unlikely to have a substantial presence on the air. The party, under the new chairmanship of Keith Downey, has made what he calls “the ground game” its priority.
That means communicating with the base of the party, a traditional route that both the DFL and the GOP will employ in the final weeks of the 2014 campaign.