Category Archives: Adam Pagnucco

Updated: Broadcast TV Spending in CD8

The following is a guest post by Adam Pagnucco.

We are now at the end of a record-breaking, historic and extremely expensive Democratic primary for Congress in District 8.  The leading category of spending in the race is television advertising.  Broadcast TV contracts for political ads are available on the Federal Communications Commission’s website, but they are not readily searchable or crunchable.  We tracked and broke down candidate spending on 127 contracts through noon, April 4 three weeks ago.  The updated data below pertains to 218 contracts uploaded as of Saturday afternoon, April 23, and should cover almost all broadcast TV spending in the primary.

First, let’s look at the number of spots and gross spending for each broadcaster.  This data does not include production costs for the ads, only payments to broadcasters to run them.

Broadcast TV Spending by Network

WRC-TV, the Washington NBC affiliate, has been the leading network here for years and accounts for roughly a third of spots and more than 40% of gross spending.  Its news programs, including the Today Show, the local news shows and NBC Nightly News, are among the most desirable – and most expensive – programs for political advertisers.  Three Baltimore broadcasters appear in our dataset because Total Wine co-owner David Trone is advertising on them to reach Carroll County voters.

Television spending has increased steadily since January 26, when Trone kicked off the CD8 2016 ad season.  Former WJLA anchor Kathleen Matthews began advertising on February 8.  Senator Jamie Raskin joined in on March 24 and Delegate Kumar Barve followed on April 6.  April has been a lucrative month for Washington broadcasters, especially WRC.

Broadcast TV Spending by Month

David Trone is the king of TV spending, accounting for the majority of spots and 75% of gross payments.  Trone heavily targets national and local news programs for his ads, considered by many to be solid places to reach voters.  Barve prefers these programs too.  Matthews keeps her costs down by mixing in cheaper daytime television like The Meredith Viera Show, Days of Our Lives, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, CBS Soaps and The Insider.  Raskin runs 15-second spots, half the length of his competitors, and that’s why he has the lowest cost per spot.

Candidate and Cost per Spot

Trone has been on TV the longest and has spent the most money by far, but the entrance of other candidates has cut into his dominance a bit.  Still, even in April when all spigots were opened, Trone had a 68% market share.  Trone spent almost as much on April broadcast TV as Matthews has spent on all items in her entire campaign, and more than Raskin has spent in total.

Candidate and Month

Despite his unprecedented TV spending, Trone’s campaign is not the most TV-intensive as a proportion of total funds.  That distinction belongs to Matthews.  Her broadcast TV spending accounts for 48% of the money she raised through April 6.  Trone’s TV spending accounts for 43% of his resources (including two late contributions through April 15).  Barve and Raskin trail on this measure.  Matthews is able to put more of her money into TV, an area in which she excels, because Emily’s List has basically taken over her mail program.  This is a significant advantage for Matthews.  Aside from the authority line, voters likely cannot distinguish between Emily’s List mailers and anything they have seen from the Matthews campaign.

Percent Spent on Broadcast TV

If spending alone determines the outcome of the race, Trone is going to win.  However, about sixty percent of the electorate is female and that will help Matthews.  And Raskin’s grass-roots support has been second to none.  We are headed towards an exciting finish!

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How David Trone Could Win

A guest blog by Adam Pagnucco.

Congressional District 8 has three strong Democratic candidates with a chance to win.  One of them is Total Wine co-founder David Trone.

Strengths

Let’s start with the obvious: Trone has accounted for two-thirds of all funding in the race and three-quarters of broadcast TV spending.  He leads the field in mail and digital ads too.  As David Lublin has written, his campaign has been well run and professional.  Trone’s rags-to-riches life story is compelling and will appeal to many.  He is running as the outsider candidate in a year in which outsiders have seen success at the presidential level in both parties.  He is running against PACs and lobbyists more than he is against his opponents.  (Only PACs and lobbyists could rival the current Congress in unpopularity!)  And Trone has been an active campaigner at the retail level, appearing at Metro stations and many events.

Weaknesses

Trone had a bad start, openly saying “I sign my checks to buy access” when questioned about why he contributed to Republicans and having to apologize when his campaign sent a spy to the Matthews and Raskin offices.  He is pilloried by Raskin loyalists and some of his opponents for his self-funding.  He is not a natural politician and has had to learn the ropes quickly.  He was unknown in the district in the beginning (boy, has that changed!) and has no local political history.  And he is not as good a fit for the district’s electorate as a liberal state senator or a telegenic, professional woman.  But Trone’s financing as well as the competent campaign operation he has built virtually overnight make him a big factor in this race.

What Our Sources Say

Source: “Trone is not a naturally attractive candidate, but he seems to be the rare self-funding first-timer who has allocated his resources wisely and widely across the spectrum of voter contact methods and has mostly avoided unforced errors, some early missteps notwithstanding. He has hired competent professionals to produce television ads and direct mail pieces of workmanlike quality while also using paid canvassers, online ads, etc. If he loses it will not be because he failed to touch all of the bases or because he failed to heed the advice of people who know how to run political campaigns.”

Source: “If there’s anything Montgomery County politics could use, it’s someone to shake things up. Our politics are boring and our politicians are all the same. I love the fact that Trone’s not part of the small insiders club, and rather than being shy about it, he’s proud of it. With the Republican Party shifting hard to the far right nationally, the Democratic Party should be seizing the hole left for the business community – and with his business background and progressive politics, David Trone is the kind of guy who can help make that happen.”

Source: “Running a terrific outsider gubernatorial campaign, but he’s running it for a House seat.  Good ads, good mail, and showing up everywhere he needs to, just not getting traction because the legislative job doesn’t match his executive credentials.”

Source: “David’s candidacy will test the political theory about whether the Delaney model for victory was a fluke or is a viable way to reach Congress in Maryland. In terms of policy, demeanor, desire and political acumen, he is the best choice. He has the potential to actually change Congress for the better. So, did his late entry hurt him? Do enough people know him? Is money the ultimate decider in our local Congressional races? He’s never held political office, does that matter? If he is elected, does that mean that most MoCo voters are actually more moderate and business friendly than we think they are? David’s candidacy is the most intriguing because it tests all of these questions. If he wins, the party establishment loses two congressional seats in a row – CD6 and CD8.”

How He Could Win

Because of his resource advantage, Trone doesn’t have to run a targeted race – he can communicate with everybody.  His television and digital ads go out to regular voters, casual voters, non-voters, members of other parties and non-residents alike.  His mail program can reach out to all registered Democrats.  Raskin’s base will never abandon him and many women will go for Matthews, but there are thousands of Democrats in the district who know only one candidate: David Trone.  If turnout is high and is not based just in the Downcounty areas that are the home of the district’s liberal, high-information voters, there will be lots of people who will vote for President, know nothing of Congress, and vote for U.S. House candidates based on little more than name recognition.  This is the antithesis of the scenario most favorable to Jamie Raskin – a large, casual, mixed-ideology electorate who come from Carroll, Frederick and Upcounty nearly as much as they do from the Beltway region.  If that happens and turnout approaches 2008 levels, David Trone could be going to Congress.

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How Jamie Raskin Could Win

A guest blog by Adam Pagnucco.

Congressional District 8 has three strong Democratic candidates with a chance to win.  One of them is District 20 State Senator Jamie Raskin.

Strengths

Raskin has successfully established his brand as the effective, results-oriented progressive in the race, and he uses it as a contrast against two well-funded opponents who have never held office and have no local political history.  He started with a geographic base that accounted for roughly a sixth of the district and expanded it into other areas with a nearly year-long ground campaign.  His supporters are passionate, knowledgeable, loyal and numerous.  It would not be a stretch to say that he has wrapped up close to 90% of the district’s regular Democratic activists, the kind of people who play big roles in County Council and state legislative races.  His fundraising has been mostly local and is competitive with Kathleen Matthews.  His mail program has been second only to David Trone’s, although Emily’s List has been catching up in their advocacy for Matthews.

Weaknesses

As the third-ranking candidate in terms of finances, Raskin is running a more targeted race than either Matthews or Trone.  He has made a token investment in television in favor of a robust mail campaign, which can be targeted to regular voters.  There is good reason for this, but let’s remember that Rob Garagiola made a similar choice against John Delaney in 2012.  If turnout is high and jammed with low information voters who have not seen Raskin’s mail, he would be at a disadvantage.  Also, Raskin’s dispute with Delegate Kumar Barve over an inaccurate television ad has earned him negative coverage in the Post (twice), the Sun and Bethesda Magazine during the crucial final weeks of the race.

What Our Sources Say

Source: “Raskin has had the clearest message – that you should vote for him because he is the one who has actually passed bills that deliver on the progressive values all of the candidates say they support – but the question is whether he has put enough resources into TV ads to compete with the Trone-a-thon (and to a lesser extent the Matthews ads) that have blanketed the region with spots for his competitors.”

Source: “A hypothetical: If you could choose between a candidate who had a fantastic TV game but mediocre ground game, or a candidate with a fantastic ground game but mediocre TV game, who would you choose?  If you chose the latter, congrats, you’ve picked the winner of the CD8 race.”

Source: “Raskin isn’t a bad guy but the issues he’s advanced in the State Senate that he talks about frequently on the trail — a place with only 14 Republicans — have absolutely ZERO chance of happening in a Republican Congress. The key progressive battles in Congress won’t be waged in the near term on social issues, but as Chris Van Hollen showed, they’ll be fought on budget issues. That’s the effective progressive void CVH will leave in the House and Raskin simply doesn’t have the budget chops to fill it.”

Source: “He inherited Frosh’s very strong Montgomery County network which, along with his own record, gave him an instant third of the vote.  That’s an enviable position to be in.  On the other hand, he has a long voting record in a year of outsiders, is arguably to the left of Bernie Sanders, and doesn’t have a great deal of humility.  Still, if he wins it is a great victory for activism, involvement, and progressivism.”

Source: “Jamie’s candidacy is the test of whether there is value to being in the state legislature for people who aspire to higher profile office (offices on the top of the ballot that most voters learned about in civics class in high school – President, Senate, House). Hard working legislator, deep community connections, excellent reputation and undeniably brilliant. But, does he have any kind of advantage from having all of those elements in front of an electorate that does not follow Annapolis? Do the liberal party insiders who support him have as much electoral power as the state legislators and county councilmembers think they do? We’re about to find out!”

How He Could Win

Raskin supporters tend to be very liberal, know that Raskin is very liberal, and have lots of information about the race.  That message is reinforced through the grass-roots network that Raskin has built.  High information voters like these almost always vote and they will have an outsize impact on a low turnout election.  Turnout in Montgomery County has been trending downwards for years, and if that continues, it will favor Raskin.  Under this scenario, his people will stay with him and the remaining low information voters will be divided between Matthews and Trone.  Whether this will play out in the context of a competitive Democratic presidential primary is anyone’s guess, but Raskin’s base is the envy of the field and he has a good chance to win.

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How Kathleen Matthews Could Win

A guest blog by Adam Pagnucco.

Congressional District 8 has three strong Democratic candidates with a chance to win.  One of them is former WJLA anchor and Marriott executive Kathleen Matthews.

Strengths

Matthews is an attractive, polished female candidate – an advantage in any Democratic primary dominated by women.  She has been a great fundraiser, excels on television and has run an intelligent campaign based on her strengths.  She has been endorsed by the Washington Post, as was John Delaney in 2012.  Emily’s List has basically taken over her mail program, enabling her to shift more money to her home medium of TV.  And she has not made any significant mistakes during the campaign.

Weaknesses

Matthews started out with no history in local politics, even though she was once well-known as a local journalist.  That caused skepticism from local Democratic Party activists, most of whom quickly lined up behind Senator Jamie Raskin.  Her history of running Marriott’s PAC, which donated to Republicans as well as Democrats, is an issue for some.  Comptroller Peter Franchot, Delegate Bill Frick and former County Executive Doug Duncan are among her few local endorsements.  She has raised far more money out of state than in state.  And her campaign, while professional, has emphasized more standard national Democratic issues than local issues.  Still, Matthews’s strengths outweigh her weaknesses and she has a very good chance to win.

What Our Sources Say

Source: “Matthews started slow – she was so poorly informed and unfamiliar with the people and issues in the district that she bordered on offensive in early appearance and meetings with activists and other potential supporters – but she has become much more comfortable and has performed reasonably well in later candidate forums and debates. The conventional wisdom – and I suspect it is correct – is that Trone takes a bigger chunk of support from Matthews than from Raskin, because Raskin is presumably strongest among the most intensively engaged Democratic base voters, while Trone and Matthews are competing for voters who are less ideological and are less likely to know much about his legislative record.”

Source: “Among insiders, there’s a sense that Kathleen is running a very generic campaign.  Campaign-in-a-box kinda thing.  But insiders are usually wrong, and she obviously has gender on her side (and isn’t afraid to use it).”

Source: “With all due respect to Kathleen who seems like a perfectly nice and intelligent woman, female voters in this District are far too smart to be pandered to the way she has this election cycle. To talk about her time at Marriott in the context of creating jobs and being a business person is like saying her husband – who was Tip O’Neill’s press secretary – served as Speaker of the House.”

Source: “Strong candidate and strong campaign.  If it weren’t for a completely unprecedented amount of self-funding by another outsider candidate, she would have the race sealed.”

How She Could Win

Matthews and her chief ally, Emily’s List, are running an all-female, all-the-time kind of campaign.  And they are smart to do so since women account for roughly 60% of Montgomery County’s Democratic voters, no matter how you cut the electorate.  If Matthews gets a majority of women, she could start with 35 points.  If she adds just five more points from men, she has 40, and that’s probably good enough to win.

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Updated: Fundraising in Congressional District 8

This is a guest blog by Adam Pagnucco.

Last October, we summarized fundraising in Congressional District 8 through the third quarter of 2015.  Today, we present updated numbers incorporating campaign finance reports through April 6, 2016, which are the last reports due before the primary.

First, let’s look at the top-line numbers by category.

Total Wine co-owner David Trone stands out.  His $12.5 million in resources, almost entirely self-funded, accounts for 67% of all money in the race.  Trone has set the all-time nationwide record for self-funding in a U.S. House primary and his financing approaches the range of recent major candidates for Maryland Governor.

Former WJLA anchor and Marriott executive Kathleen Matthews and Senator Jamie Raskin have both done well.  At the beginning of the race, many observers were predicting that it would take $2 million to win, and both Matthews and Raskin are roughly at that mark.  If it were not for Trone, their financial performance would be attracting more comment.  The other candidates combined have accounted for 9% of the election’s funding and face steep challenges to be heard.  (Dan Bolling’s report has not been filed as of this writing, so his numbers are not included here.)

Top Line

Unlike state and county contributions, federal contributions must be designated for the primary or the general.  The candidates have collected relatively little general election money and their budgets are almost entirely available for the primary.

Primary vs General

Burn rate, which is the percentage of money raised that has been spent, is not a terribly meaningful statistic at this point.  Most of the candidates’ money is gone now with the exception of Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez, who can afford some late mailers if she wishes.  But Trone and Matthews have additional self-financing capacity, and even Raskin can self-fund to a limited extent.  (So far, he has given himself just $2,700.)  Additionally, this statistic is affected by the timing of bill payments.  Candidates who pay late look better on cash-on-hand than those who pay early.  Note: Trone’s raised figure includes the two self-funding contributions he made last week, but his cash on hand applies to April 6.  That makes his data not strictly comparable to the other candidates, but at this point, he and the others are spending as fast as they take money in.

Burn Rate

The maximum allowable individual contribution is $2,700 per election, both primary and general.  Matthews leads in this category.  Thirty percent of her fundraising has come from maximum checks and her average individual contribution is the highest in the field.  Raskin has the smallest average individual contribution, but that does not include his lead in unitemized contributions of $200 or less.  There’s no way to tell from the campaign finance reports how many of those small contributions he has received, but they total over $300,000.  Raskin is the race’s small dollar leader.

Avg Max Individual

In terms of geography, large amounts of out-of-state cash have been flowing into CD8.  Excluding self-financing and unitemized contributions, only Raskin has received a majority of his contributions from Maryland while Delegate Kumar Barve is close at 47%.  Nearly half of all money from Marylanders in this race has gone to Raskin.  Matthews, Gutierrez, Will Jawando, Joel Rubin and Dave Anderson have all received less than a third of their contributions from Marylanders other than themselves.  Rubin’s take from California is more than double his receipts from Maryland.  Matthews’ number one location of contributions is the District of Columbia and she leads in receipts from the District, Virginia, New York, California and Massachusetts.

By State

Here’s a breakdown by locality, both inside and outside the district.  Matthews leads in funding from Potomac and is basically tied with Raskin in Chevy Chase, while Raskin leads in Bethesda, Silver Spring, Rockville, Kensington and Takoma Park (the latter by light years).  Matthews dominates in fundraising from large localities outside the district.  She has raised more than three times as much money from New York City as she has from Silver Spring, Takoma Park, Rockville and Kensington combined.

By City

This data makes clear the fundraising strengths of CD8 candidates.  Trone is self-funding A LOT.  Matthews has tapped into a large monetary base combining national level Democrats, PACs and business money.  Raskin has national and PAC money too, but most of his financing is local and much of it is small dollar.  All three have the resources they need to win.  Given the fact that these three account for 91% of the funding in this race, it’s hard for the other candidates to break through.

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CD8 is Wide Open

Today, I am pleased to present a guest post from Adam Pagnucco:

Long-time District 8 Congressman Chris Van Hollen is now running for the U.S. Senate. Who will succeed him? No one knows because this race is wide open. That’s right, wide open.

Announced or potential candidates include At-Large Councilmembers Nancy Floreen and Hans Riemer, District 20 State Senator Jamie Raskin, District 17 Delegate Kumar Barve, District 16 Delegate Ariana Kelly, former District 5 County Council Member Valerie Ervin, former District 20 Delegate candidate Will Jawando and former WJLA anchor and current Marriott executive Kathleen Matthews. All except Matthews have campaign records. None have run campaigns that approach anything close to the scale of a congressional race.

Consider the following data.

CD8 Comparison

Campaign Spending

In the CD8 2002 primary, Chris Van Hollen spent $1.1 million and won. Mark Shriver spent $2.6 million and lost. None of the prospective candidates in the current CD8 have demonstrated that kind of monetary capacity. Raskin, Riemer and Floreen spent between 200k and 300k on their competitive races. Barve came close to that level in 2014. Ervin has never spent more than 100k in a campaign. All of these candidates would need to dramatically increase their fundraising activity and it’s hard to see that any one has a significant advantage over the others. Matthews, who may be able to draw on self-financing, national Dem money and corporate money, may be an exception.

Size of Electorate

It’s tricky to forecast the size of the CD8 Dem primary electorate because the district was changed radically in 2012 and it does not have a recent experience of primary competition. Van Hollen faced no-names in both the 2012 and 2014 primary and general elections. In the 2002 primary, when the district was almost entirely in MoCo, 86,000 Dems voted. That was a high turnout year for Dems in terms of gubernatorial elections, but 2016 is a presidential year and many more Dems could turn out. In 2012, a presidential year, just 39,000 Dems voted in the primary, as Van Hollen clobbered an opponent without a federal account and there was no meaningful competition in the Presidential and U.S. Senate races. A combination of competition in the U.S. Senate and CD8 races, plus support for Hillary Clinton, could drive turnout in the 2016 CD8 Dem primary north of 100,000.

Among the possible candidates in the CD8 primary, only Nancy Floreen and Hans Riemer have experience running in an electorate that large. State legislative races tend to draw out 7,000-16,000 Democratic primary voters. But Floreen and Riemer don’t necessarily have an advantage because their races are fundamentally different from congressional contests (more below).

Multiple-Vote vs One-Vote Races

A congressional race has one similarity to a State Senate race: voters only get to vote for one candidate. In House of Delegates races (at least in MoCo), voters can vote for up to three candidates. In Council At-Large races, they can vote for up to four. These are very different dynamics.

In a multiple-vote race, a candidate can be no one’s first choice, but can be the second or third choice of a lot of people and still win. Such a candidate would do poorly in a one-vote race like Congress. Even though Floreen and Riemer have won countywide, many of their voters are not voting for them. In 2010, 113,653 MoCo Democrats voted in the primary. Riemer received 40,493 votes (36%) and Floreen received 39,500 (35%). In 2014, 91,046 MoCo Democrats voted in the primary, which was notably less competitive than it was in 2010. Riemer received 49,932 votes (55%) and Floreen received 52,924 votes (58%). The number of voters who would rate either Riemer or Floreen as their first choice would be FAR fewer and would be closer to the total of one of the State Senators.

For what it’s worth, Floreen finished first in 32 of the 138 CD8 precincts located in Montgomery County in 2014. Riemer finished first in 11. At-Large Council Member Marc Elrich, who finished first in 90 CD8 precincts, has shown no interest in a Congressional race.

Delegates have similar problems. Barve and Kelly finished first in their respective House races, but the number of their voters who would have picked them as a first choice is unknowable short of a contemporaneous poll.

District Overlap

State legislators do not enter this race on equal footing. District boundaries and voting patterns give some an advantage over others. Delegate Ariana Kelly benefits from the fact that her district has more actual primary voters in CD8 than any other MoCo state legislative district. In terms of cards cast on 2014 primary election day by residents of CD8, Kelly’s District 16 led with 14,114, followed by District 18 (12, 072), District 20, home of Senator Jamie Raskin and Will Jawando (9,331), District 19 (6,948), District 17, home of Delegate Kumar Barve (4,929), District 14 (3,302) and District 15 (442). Barve is handicapped by the fact that 42% of voters in his district reside in CD6, not CD8.

Women

Fifty-nine percent of MoCo Democrats are women. That figure applies to registered Dems, voting Dems and “super-Dems,” or Dems who always vote. This is not necessarily a prohibitive advantage for female candidates. But if one or two strong women face off against a male-dominated field, it’s possible that this factor could act as something like a tiebreaker. A savvy female candidate might point out that with U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski’s retirement and Rep. Donna Edwards’ entry into the Senate race, the state could be facing the very real prospect of an all-male congressional delegation.

Presidential Year vs. Gubernatorial Year Turnout

Presidential year Democratic primaries tend to attract higher turnout than gubernatorial year Dem primaries. Below are stats on how many MoCo Dems voted in the primary over the last six elections (both presidential and gubernatorial). With the glaring exception of 2012, when there was little or no competition in the presidential, U.S. Senate and CD8 races, presidential year turnouts tend to be higher. That means in a presidential year CD8 race, there will be tens of thousands of Democratic voters who have not voted in gubernatorial races and do not know their state senators, delegates or councilmembers. Communicating with these people will be a significant challenge for any candidate. Also, anywhere from a sixth to a fifth of the CD8 primary electorate will be residents of Carroll and Frederick Counties.

MoCo Turnout Dem Primary

Bottom Line

There are no favorites in this field. No candidate has proven that he or she can raise the money for a congressional campaign. The at-large County Council candidates run across a big geography but not in one-vote races. State legislators have small districts (at least compared to CD8) and delegates run in multiple-vote elections. Tens of thousands of non-gubernatorial and non-MoCo voters will have no idea who any of the candidates are and they will need some attention.

Wide open, folks. This contest is wide open.

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