The Democratic Party has set up a fundraising mechanism that automatically funnels
a portion of every dollar Barack Obama raises some of the money Obama raises* to state parties in 18 states. Here's Roll Call:
The new fund, the Committee for Change, will parcel a fixed percentage of the contributions it receives to each of the 18 state parties, infusing those parties with new federal dollars and a list of new donors who can be helpful in future campaigns.
Brad Woodhouse, a spokesman for the DNC, says this move has the power to strengthen the party long-term. "This is going to help us build the party up and down the ticket in all of those states," he said.
Here's the important part. Check out the list of states: Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
A number of these are standard swing states: New Mexico (Bush by 1 percent in 2004), New Hampshire (Kerry by 1), Iowa (Bush by 1), Michigan (Kerry by 3), Ohio (Bush by 2), etc. But a number are solid red states that haven't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in years, and tend to produce lopsided Republican victories.
Alaska? Bush 61, Kerry 36. Georgia? Bush 58, Kerry 41. Indiana? Bush 60, Kerry 38. North Dakota? Bush 63, Kerry 36.
But Obama is not Kerry, and the political environment of 2008 is not the political environment of 2004. The Democratic Party is betting on three things. (1) Obama's appeal to independents in these states means tying him to downticket Democrats actually gives those Dems a chance to win for the first time. (2) Obama may not win in these states, but a little extra cash might make them competitive, thus forcing John McCain to campaign and make ad buys in places he previously thought safe. And (3) the political environment is so bad for Republicans right now that if there is any time where Democrats can bring new voters into the fold, it's now. Using this money to build out party operations will be helpful in 2008, but also in 2012 and 2016.
*Clarified with the press team at the DNC. Donors who write checks to the Obama campaign directly will have their money put to Obama and Obama alone. But donors who write checks (presumably larger donors) to this Committee for Change will see their money divided between Obama, the DNC, and the 18 states.