The great thing about post-election analysis is: there’s almost no limit to the myriad ways to slice the pie and come to your own conclusions about what happened the night before. Last night was no exception, but in the NY25 race between Louise Slaughter and Maggie Brooks, I have to wonder where that great boogeyman, Crossroads GPS went to?
Crossroads GPS is Karl “Turdblossom” Rove’s Political Action Committee, which is Washington speak for “giant bank account for political ads.” After the Citizens United case effectively eliminated the limits on private financing of elections, CGPS served as the poster boy for everything disastrous that could happen when unlimited funds entered politics. And there’s no question that exorbitant sums of money were spent on this political season: one report has Conservative groups alone spending $800m on this election season. Nearly one billion dollars from only one demographic. Other reports have put the total expenditure for the season in the $2bn range.
I kept waiting for things to get really ugly in NY25. Here you have two well-liked, well-known candidates in a brand new district, duking it out in what should be a bad year for incumbents. Sooner or later, I thought, those Crossroads ads are going to get pretty nasty.
But instead, it seems like Crossroads were partying like it was 1999. Pay raises? Generic “taxes?” “High-flying junkets?” When and in what district has there been an election in which these attacks were not used? They are practically boilerplate Conservative attacks: you use this in addition to – not exclusively in lieu of – more relevant, local and timely attacks.
Its worth noting that, for a politician with 26 years in Congress of all places, Louise Slaughter has what can only be considered a shockingly clean record. No scandals, not even much argument over “earmarks” or sops to patrons. Even so, there must have been something – something – that the Crossroads people could have dredged up if they really wanted to. But despite the NY25 campaign being one of the most expensive in the state, it doesn’t seem like Crossroads spent much of that cash on research.
It would be a mistake on a number of levels to assume that this means outside money and unlimited cash have no effect. But its clear that simply dumping a bunch of money on a race will not by itself win that race. Yes, there is such a thing as bad advertisement. Perhaps in other races, Crossroads’ efforts were more focused, but in this race at least, their results cast a pretty dim light on the organization.