by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
If there’s one thing the 2022 midterms made clear, it’s that Democrats have a huge ground game advantage over Republicans. Whether it’s a month of harvesting (and curing) ballots thanks to early voting, or going door-to-door filling out ballots for huge swaths of unlikely voters, Democrats know that turning out ballots is more important than turning out votes. They don’t have to rely on generating traditional Election Day enthusiasm through distributing campaign mailers or running TV ads.
Republicans, however, still insist on investing the majority of their campaign funds into these antiquated (or pre-2020) methods. And they’re showing no signs of stopping. Why? Blame the political consultant class.
For years, millions of dollars in grassroots donations have gone to prop up GOP candidates, only to end up in the pockets of the political consultant class. Back during the 2012 presidential election, 10 of the consulting firms behind the effort to get Mitt Romney to the White House grossed a combined $1 billion in the process. In the 2014 election cycle, the same consultants reaped more than $19.6 billion.
“Big money campaign consultants on the GOP side are in the business of losing,” former Kansas Congressman Tim Huelskamp told The Federalist. “Investing in the ground game makes campaign consultants almost no money — arguably it costs them money. On the other hand, hundreds of millions of ads put 10-15 percent of that total in hand of the media buyers/consultants – and upwards of 30-50 percent of campaign mailers typically are profit.”
In the 2020 election cycle, for example, four Republican House candidates in dead-end campaigns raised over $42 million combined but drew less than 30 percent of the vote in each of their races. A lot of that money went to pay consultants.