It seems that, in the wake of the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, which allowed uncontrolled corporate money into elections, that (surprise!) Republicans have a huge warchest from outside actors like the Chamber of Commerce:
On the left hand side of the chart is a list of ten Republican aligned institutions, ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the Family Research Council. Next to it is a column listing the amount of money each group has pledged to spend by Election Day. A third column on the right details what those groups actually spent in 2008 on federal elections.
The number at the bottom delivers the key message. If their pledges are fulfilled, these ten groups will unleash more than $200 million in election-focused spending -- roughly $37 million more than every single independent group spent on the 2008 presidential campaign combined. This time around, almost every single penny will be going to Republican candidates or causes.
So, how did this happen?
First, Democrats didn't make an all out effort to torpedo either Roberts, or more reasonably, Alito. With both on the Supreme Court, decisions like Citizens United were inevitable.
Second, when given a historic opportunity to break the power of the rich and corporations by not bailing them out, Democrats bailed them out. They did not make shareholders get wiped out (as they deserved, they took the profits from housing bubble fraud, after all) and they did not let the bondholders take their losses. Be very clear, this was never about saving the economy, the trillions of dollars used to bail out these corporations could have been loaned directly to consumers and businesses which needed loans. In fact, at this point, it is entirely likely that bailouts made things worse, not better.
Third, Democrats did not push hard for the Employee Free Choice Act, an act which would have made union organizing much easier. Union members vote for Democrats at much higher rates than non Union members (in particular, white male union members are pro-Democrat while as a group white males who aren't union members vote Republican). Unions not only provide financial resources for Democrats, they put feet on the ground for Democrats. Where unions are strong, Democrats tend to win. Where unions aren't strong, Democrats tend to lose.
Fourth, Democrats abandoned their constituencies economically in order to bail out the financial sector. They seem to have thought the financial sector would be loyal. Of course, it isn't, it will give money to whoever it thinks can win and from whom it'll get the best deal. Meanwhile unmarried women, Hispanics, African Americans and Youth, all core Demoratic groups, have high unemployment rates. That means they are not motivated to vote or volunteer, they cannot give as much money as they could if they were doing well. The money spent on bailing out banks and the rich, could have been used for a proper stimulus and proper loans which would have helped these groups.
Fifth, Democrats let ACORN be destroyed. ACORN was framed, but Democrats threw it under the bus. ACORN was a community organization which did huge voter drives which registered voters who were overwhelmingly likely to vote Democratic. Again, a key liberal organization was simply abandoned.
Democrats made a play for corporate money and in so doing, they sold out constituencies which were actually loyal to them, and could actually be counted on. Wall Street will never be reliably loyal to Democrats, neither will the very rich. At best they will play Democrats and Republicans off against each other, but realistically, they prefer Republicans whenever Republicans can win.
You reap what you sow. Sell out the interests of your core supporters, and they can't help you as much as they could if you helped them. When will Democratic politicians learn this lesson?
Democrats should have much stronger allies in 2010. But they preferred to play footsie with Wall Street and abandon their own constituencies.