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For an entity that spends nearly half a billion dollars every election cycle, surprisingly little is known about the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). As the political arm of the Democrats in the House of Representatives, the DCCC (or “d-trip” in Beltway lingo) is responsible for raising and spending hundreds of millions of dollars to help Democrats win congressional elections. The committee spent $354,623,642 on the 2022 midterms, according to its filings with the Federal Elections Commission.

House Democrats need to flip just five seats in 2024 to recapture control of the chamber. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), the new House minority leader, has tapped Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) to serve as chair of the DCCC this cycle, and DelBene has named Julie Merz as executive director to drive the committee’s day-to-day operations.

With Democrats so close to recapturing control at a time when white nationalist fascism is still very much in the air, there is little margin for error, and it is imperative that the party make smart, strategic decisions about how to deploy its massive war chest. In that spirit, here are five fundamental questions that all interested parties should ask DelBene and Merz.

Will you base your spending decisions on rigorous data about what works in winning elections?

As basic as this sounds, it’s sadly not common practice. Cook Political Report prognosticator Dave Wasserman expressed bewilderment in November at DCCC spending decisions, tweeting in November, “It was always strange to me that Jevin Hodge (D) wasn’t taken more seriously by DC strategists/spenders/modelers considering…redistricting moving #AZ01 from Trump +4 to Biden +1.” What Wasserman flagged is that, though the data would seem to have made Hodge’s bid to flip Arizona’s First Congressional District an obvious priority, the DCCC spent none of its $96 million in independent expenditures (a subset of its $354 million total spending) on that contest, according to the FEC reports. Left to fend for himself, Hodge lost by less than 1 percent of the vote.

It’s a sadly elemental, yet key, starting point in engaging with the new DCCC leadership. Will they commit to making data-driven spending decisions based on rigorous analysis of the numbers?

Will you be transparent in explaining the rationale for the spending decisions?

The lack of communication, transparency, and accountability in Democratic politics is breathtaking. In Hodge’s Arizona race, for example, the DCCC leadership never had to account for its decision to forgo investing in a winnable race. If you invest $10 in buying stock in a publicly traded company, then you get regular reports and updates on the company’s future plans and past performance, with financial results that are verified by auditors. As someone who has advised many progressive donors, I’ve been shocked to learn that if you give $1 million to Democratic Party committees, you’re lucky if you ever get a single piece of paper explaining what happened and why.



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