100-Seat Challenge

Ruy Teixeira had an interesting post last week, noting that the Democrats may challenge as many as 100 congressional seats in the 2006 midterm elections. Makes sense—especially with the minority party now polling well above Republicans, 50-38 according to Newsweek—and armchair strategists have been calling for this sort of tactic for ages. More interestingly, though, Teixeira argues that a 100-seat strategy is almost always preferable, since new research shows that spending any more than $1 million on a single race leads to diminishing returns. In other words, spreading around campaign cash far and wide will very likely garner more votes than pouring in lots of dollars into just a few races. It would be nice if we could get past the point where 99 percent of the House sails to re-election every two years, but now it seems, happily, that perhaps that state of affairs has only persisted because campaign strategists have an irrational belief in the power of money to win elections.