Democrat donors including billionaire philanthropist George Soros plan to pump more than $100 million into liberal grass-roots groups.
“[I]nstead of going head to head with the conservative ‘super PACs’ and outside groups that have flooded the presidential and Congressional campaigns with negative advertising, the donors are focusing on grass-roots organizing, voter registration and Democratic turnout [emphasis added],” Nicholas Confessore writes for the New York Times.
George Soros has personally pledged to donate $2 million to America Votes, an environmentalist, abortion “rights,” and civil rights groups, and American Bridge 21st Century, an election research oriented super PAC.
But why are people like Soros focusing on ground level organizations instead of powerful PAC groups?
There are two possible reasons: first, because of what the wealthy donors say (that they can’t possibly compete with the type of money Romney is now able to raise because of the Citizens United decision). Second, because the voter registration fight is occurring at the grass-roots level.
Which reason do you think is more likely?
“George Soros believes the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United opened the floodgates to special interests’ paying for political ads,” said Michael Vachon, a spokesman for Soros.
“There is no way those concerned with the public interest can compete with them. Soros has always focused his political giving on grass-roots organizing and holding conservatives accountable for the flawed policies they promote. His support of these groups is consistent with those views.”
And the fact that the wealthier donors are focusing on grass-roots groups is showing. The pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action, “has struggled to raise money against better-financed conservative groups like American Crossroads, which expects to spend $300 million on the presidential, House and Senate elections,” Confessore writes.
Confessore argues that the reason PACs like Priorities USA Action have had such a hard time raising cash is because major Democrat donors have been focusing primarily on research and voter-outreach groups since 2004.
“The idea that we’re going to engage in an arms race on advertising with the Republicans is not appealing to many liberal donors,” said David Brock, the founder of American Bridge 21st Century.
The Times article goes on to detail the groups that will most likely be on the receiving ends of donations from people like Soros:
- Catalist: specializes in voter lists for allied liberal groups
- ProgressNow: “a network of state-based Web sites for liberal opinion and activism.”
- Latino Engagement Fund: A group dedicated to registering and turning out Latino Democrat voters.
“Liberals outside the Democracy Alliance are also likely to make significant contributions, as are labor unions, which plan to spend up to $400 million on state, local and federal races, and advocacy groups like the Sierra Club,” Confessore writes.
Steve Phillips, founder of the super PAC PAC+, which plans to spend $10 million on advertising and organizing for the Latino vote, sums up the strategy nicely:
You can dump 10 or 20 million in TV ads in Ohio and try to reach the persuadable swing voters there, or you can up voter turnout among Latinos in Colorado and Arizona and win that way. It’s much cheaper.