As Mick Mulvaney continues to hammer away at John Spratt in the Fifth District, national news media has taken notice that the Democrats have held back their promised television buys in the Fifth District race, raising the possibility that they're pulling out of the race:
Meanwhile, the DCCC is beefing up its ad buy in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., which could go to help Reps. Chris Carney (D-Pa.) and Kanjorski. It has already reserved more than $750,000 in the media market but has doubled that to $1.5 million, according to a GOP strategist.
The committee also has yet to spend in districts represented by several longtime Democratic incumbents who face real challenges this fall, including Reps. John Spratt (S.C.), Ike Skelton (Mo.), Chet Edwards (Texas) and Pomeroy.
It’s canceled two ad buys in North Dakota for Pomeroy.
The NRCC has spent close to half a million dollars targeting those incumbents
Nationwide, the Democrats have employed a strategy of going negative early and in high volume in races where Republican challengers were seen to be closing:
The "negative first" strategy has also been employed by several Democrats running for governor and the House. Reps. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and Ron Klein (D-Fla.) launched new ads within hours of their primaries on Tuesday hitting their new GOP opponents on Social Security privatization and personal financial issues, respectively. Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio) launched his first ad -- a negative one -- in June.
Negative television advertising is nothing new in the Fifth District. Spratt and national Democrats blitzed two others who ran strong against Spratt with negative ad campaigns: Larry Bigham (48% in 1994 & 46% in 1996) and State Rep. Ralph Norman (43% in 2006). As negative ads worked in those races, it's hard to see why they'd hold their fire when the polling data shows this is Spratt's closest race yet, and the Democrats have committed to waging these kinds of campaigns as part of their national strategy.
Since the beginning of the year, the Fifth District race has been a close affair, and most national observers have long declared this race a dead heat. If the Dems had polling data which suggested them pulling ahead, it's hard to see why they'd keep it confidential, especially since they're usually eager to release data showing them in the lead. Given the puzzling silence from the Spratt campaign, usualy confident of showing itself in the lead, as well as the lack of committment by Democrats in the Fifth District, it seems Spratt could be in trouble and the Democrats have decided it best to concede the seat to Mulvaney and focus their resources elsewhere.
If someone else has evidence to challenge this point of view, we'd certainly be interested in seeing it.