NRCC Spends Wisely in Cao Win

Joseph Cao’s win over Bill Jefferson in Louisiana’s second district will likely wind up as one of the highlights of this cycle for the Republican party.  Most analysts thought that Jefferson’s re-election in 2006 was a sign that the voters were unlikely to punish him for his scandalous behavior — at least unless he was convicted in court.  Kudos to those at the NRCC (as well as folks like Quin Hillyer) who realized early that Jefferson’s weakness on election day indicated a real chance to upset him in the runoff.

According to FEC disclosures, Jefferson had spent $185 thousand on his re-election bid through November 16.  Cao’s campaign had spent less than one-quarter of that — just $44K.  Against that background, the NRCC stepped in with independent expenditures of nearly $60 thousand.  According to the Committee:

Total NRCC IE Expenditure: $58,507.31

Based on the post-election analysis, the National Republican Congressional Committee’s (NRCC) IE unit oversaw the following expenditures and grassroots activities, totaling more than $51,000, in support of the Republican candidate, AHN CAO:

Phones: $17,712.45

NRCC paid for auto-dials on the Wednesday and Friday prior to the election.  They also targeted approximately 32,000 voters with paid, live GOTV calls on Election Day.

Mail: $26,652.10

The NRCC paid for targeted mail to the GOTV universe of approximately 32,000 voters prior to Election Day.

Field Organizing: $14,142.76

The NRCC funded four (4) paid field staffers, recruited more than fifty (50) volunteers for GOTV activity.  They targeted six (6) wards [or roughly forty-five (45) precincts], contacting more than 15,000 households or approximately 23,000 voters through door-to-door efforts prior to Election Day.  On Election Day, they deployed more than twenty (20) volunteers for GOTV activities.

As far as I’ve been able to determine, there were no other independent expenditures in the race — not from the DCCC, the labor unions, or other deep-pocketed interest groups friendly to Democrats. Against this backdrop, the help from the NRCC was probably essential to knocking off Bill Jefferson and sending Joseph Cao to Congress.

The Cao race will be instructive for 2010, when Republicans are likely to be badly outspent by Democrats who control all the levers of power in Washington D.C.  The House and Senate committees will need to comb through the results of this year’s races to identify weak incumbents who might be defeated ‘on the cheap.’  They’ll consider incumbents such as Michael Arcuri and Chet Edwards, both of whom won by uncomfortably narrow margins against underfunded challengers. If the NRCC can find enough weak incumbents, 2010 could wind up being as good as this year was bad.