And if you look at congressional cash on hand, it supports the idea. After Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, who’s a true outlier with $26 million in the bank, the next five cash-stocked candidates are all Republicans, per the Center for Responsive Politics. In the House, eight of the top 10 and 17 of the top 20 candidates in terms of cash on hand are Republicans.
But Republicans aren’t quite sure how to effectively deploy their war chests, even if they’re well stocked.
The targeting firm Audience Partners has been working on models for candidates who need to reach Trump voters, “and it's actually emerged into two separate things: ticket splitters and drop-off voters,” said Jordan Lieberman, the company’s politics and public affairs lead.
Other political consulting and data analytic shops have said they’re also working on a Trump model built specifically for down-ballot Republicans readjusting to this year’s coalition.
But while Republicans tune their strings, the Democrats are in full swing.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign just placed its first general election buy, dropping an eight-digit campaign across battleground states like Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and New Hampshire.
It’s the same dynamic President Obama’s campaign used in 2012, when it spent big early in the race to define Mitt Romney and secure rates and inventory before the fall, when other races (governors, senators, attorneys general, etc.) tend to heat up, said one Clinton media buyer speaking on background to discuss campaign strategy.
He likened it to “bombing an enemy’s air force while they’re sitting on the runway.”