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On the Aug. 1, 2010, edition of ABC's This Week with Christiane Amanpour, the show's host asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., how she felt when President Barack Obama's spokesman, Robert Gibbs, suggested a few weeks earlier that the Democrats could lose their House majority in the fall elections. Pelosi exuded confidence.
"You know what, I'm speaker of the House," Pelosi said. "I have a great chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Chris Van Hollen. We have a solid plan of messaging and mobilizing at the grassroots level and management of our campaigns. And we have a two-to-one advantage money-wise. So we feel very confident about where we are, whether that's well known to that gentleman or not."
We thought the part of Pelosi's comment worth checking was that House Democrats "have a two-to-one advantage money-wise" against House Republicans.
Because Pelosi mentioned the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee just two sentences earlier, we began by looking at the money statistics for the DCCC and the parallel GOP organization, the National Republican Congressional Committee. Both groups work to elect members of their party to House seats.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based group that tracks money in politics, the DCCC had $33,783,724 in the bank through Aug. 3, 2010, compared to $17,039,525 for the NRCC, and neither committee had any debt. That works out almost exactly to a ratio of two-to-one -- just as Pelosi said.
But while the DCCC/NRCC ratio for cash on hand is probably the best statistic to use, it isn't the only one. So we decided to look at a handful of others for comparison.
-- The ratio of money raised for the DCCC and NRCC -- not just what's left in the bank. The DCCC has raised $93,706,323 during the 2009-2010 campaign cycle, compared to $75,531,984 for the NRCC. That's a 1.24 to 1 ratio -- a much more even split than cash on hand.
-- Money totals raised and held by House candidates themselves, rather than by the DCCC or the NRCC. When you look at money raised by the candidates themselves, the Republicans have actually raised slightly more than the Democrats as of Aug. 3, 2010 -- $355,067,654 to $351,238,367. Meanwhile, Democrats running for the House have $245,223,757 in the bank, compared to $173,422,985 for Republican candidates. That's a ratio of about 1.4 to 1.
Since the Republicans have more candidates running for the House, we also decided to adjust these numbers to reflect amounts raised and held per candidate. The Democrats lead in total money raised per House candidate, $589,326 to $323,670 -- a 1.82 to 1 ratio. They lead by an even larger ratio in cash on hand per House candidate -- $411,000 to $158,000, or 2.6 to 1.
-- Independent expenditures. Independent expenditures are dollars spent on campaigning by sources other than the candidates' own campaign treasuries. Through July 11, 2010, $19,017,868 was spent independently either for Democratic candidates or against Republican candidates, compared to $7,776,690 spent in support of Republicans or against Democrats. That's a ratio of about 2.4 to 1 favoring Democratic candidates.
So let's sum up. When comparing the DCCC and the NRCC in cash on hand, Pelosi is on target when she says that there's a two-to-one Democratic advantage. But using four other measures, the Democrats have a smaller lead, including one case in which the Republicans narrowly lead. Using two other measures, the Democrats have a lead of greater than two to one. Of course, these statistics can change before Election Day, and it's not especially surprising that the Democrats lead the Republicans in fundraising -- being the incumbent party in power. Either way, we think the single best statistic to use is the one Pelosi cited correctly, so we'll rate her comment Mostly True.
Nancy Pelosi, interview on ABC's This Week with Christiane Amanpour, Aug. 1, 2010
Center for Responsive Politics, totals for money raised by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee, accessed Aug. 3, 2010
Center for Responsive Politics, totals for money raised by House candidates, accessed Aug. 3, 2010
Center for Responsive Politics, totals for independent expenditures, accessed Aug. 3, 2010
Interview with David Levinithal, spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics, Aug. 3, 2010
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