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RealClearPolitics HorseRaceBlog

By Jay Cost

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More on the RNC's Troubles

I have written several times on this blog that comparing the RNC to the DNC is a bad way to evaluate Michael Steele. The RNC Chairman has enjoyed some political cover in the last few months because pundits are inclined to make this comparison. Even as his outfit's fundraising is near the bottom of its 10-year trend, he's still out-raising his rival Tim Kaine over at the DNC - so he appears to be strong.

But, for many reasons, I do not think this comparison is valid. Obama's recent fundraiser in L.A. is one very good reason why. This is from the Hill:

Even as he conceded there is still much hard work to do, President Obama was in a boastful mood Wednesday night, telling a star-studded crowd at a fundraising dinner that he "would put these first four months up against any prior administration since FDR."

The president, speaking to a dinner that included Hollywood A-listers like Kiefer Sutherland, Marisa Tomei, Jamie Foxx, Ron Howard and Steven Spielberg, lauded the legislation he has signed since taking office but added that he is "not satisfied." [snip]

The celebrity dinner, which cost couples $30,400 to attend, was followed by a larger, lower-dollar concert that all told raised between $3 million and $4 million for the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

A single dinner, and the President pulls in $3 to $4 million for the DNC. Support for the President is so deep in some (deep-pocketed) corners of this country, I'd reckon the President can do this again and again and again. I'm sure he will - and those praising Steele's fundraising "success" to date should keep this mind. Two such dinners, and Obama will have handed the DNC more money than the RNC raised through the entire month of April.

This is why I expect that, unless Michael Steele really turns up the juice on the fundraising, the DNC is going to out-raise the RNC by the time the 2010 midterm cycle is finished. That would be a first. It's still early, and Steele could pick up the pace - but the fact remains that his organization is behind the historical curve right now. The party cannot afford an RNC that is not pulling in its usual, enormous take. To stay competitive with the DNC, my guess is that it will have to have a record haul for a midterm.

PS: For those of you who, like me, think a party chairman has better things to do than host a radio show - you'll be interested to know that Steele is still doing that. He again guest-hosted Bill Bennett's radio show this morning. And while he didn't bash Romney and the evangelical Christians who voted against him - he did manage to box the party in on its response to the Sotomayor nomination:

In what seemed like an effort to distance the party from claims that Sotomayor is "racist" and an "Affirmative Action" pick, Steele repeatedly said that Republicans should be hailing the historic nature of Obama's pick.

"I'm excited that a Hispanic woman is in this position," Steele said. He added that instead of "slammin' and rammin'" on Sotomayor, Republicans should "acknowledge" the "historic aspect" of the pick and make a "cogent, articulate argument" against her for purely substantive reasons.

Steele warned that because of the attacks, "we get painted as a party that's against the first Hispanic woman" picked for the Supreme Court.

Mr. Chairman - crazy suggestion for you. Instead of spending your Friday morning fielding calls on a talk show, why don't you pick up your phone and try to find the RNC the cash it'll need to compete next year? Or call up that marginal, would-be candidate one more time to talk him into running - perhaps by promising him the support from all the donors you're about to call. This task might also be referred to as...your job description, which does not include posturing against your party for the satisfaction of your own vanity/ego while guest-hosting a talk show and serving as the party's chief media whore pundit.

Get it together, dude.

-Jay Cost