Can Democrats Improve Their Fundraising?
In my post earlier today, I opined that the party label next to their name is the biggest obstacle that Democrats face in running for statewide office in Mississippi. But you could also argue that they won’t win when they are outspent 7-1 or 8-1 by their Republican opponent. Yet at the same time, if they were competitive they would raise money. That is why Jim Hood can still bring in the cash. But at the end of the day, this is a chicken or the egg type argument.
Nationally, Democrats obviously have more success raising money and they doing it via various channels including the business community, finance, education, healthcare, Hollywood, labor unions, and lawyers. And other areas as well but I’d say this makes up the biggest chunk. Some of these sectors (like business) are bi-partisan and want to be a player regardless of who is in power. Others- labor, trial lawyers, Hollywood- not so much.
So what does this mean for Mississippi Democrats? Labor, one of the most generous allies to Democrats, is basically non-existent in the state. You will find various donations from MAE or the AFL-CIO, but nothing of great significance. Overall, the state has a certain distrust- and even disdain- for unions (private and public), but the irony is that they are as weak as they are because of policies from previous generations of Democratic members of the legislature.
Similarly, the first round of tort reform that severely handicapped trial lawyers was at Democratic hands. The real irony here was that this did little to help their election prospects by appealing conservative. In 2003 when Haley Barbour was running for governor, you’d have had no idea that any tort reform had been enacted at that point. It was a great campaign strategy. And it is still a major issue for Republican candidates. So it didn’t help their electoral success, but helped to cut off their funding.
But business funds are what really did Democrats in. Between direct contributions and outside groups, they were able to play a very big role in Republican wins in 2011- particularly in legislative races. As I said, business gives money to Democrats nationally. Until they are able to get this money in state, they are going to be dramatically outspent.