President Barack Obama is going from selling the American people on his ISIS strategy to raising money for Democrats in the span of two days. Obama is scheduled to raise money for Democratic Senate candidates in Baltimore Friday night, putting him in the awkward position of being fundraiser-in-chief for his party 48 hours after he called for expanding an airstrike campaign against ISIS as commander-in-chief. The president has faced criticism before for being tone-deaf, including more recently when he immediately went golfing while on vacation on Martha’s Vineyard after delivering a statement on the beheading of journalist James Foley.
The president’s visit to Baltimore isn’t entirely about campaigning. Obama is also set to tour Fort McHenry, according to CBS White House correspondent Mark Knoller. That means taxpayers will pay for part of the trip. The fundraiser will be the 45th Obama has attended this year, according to Knoller, who is known for keeping track of such events.
Later today, Pres Obama heads to Baltimore for a DSCC fundraiser. He'll stop for a tour of Fort McHenry to amortize the trip cost to DSCC.
â€” Mark Knoller (@markknoller) September 12, 2014
The Democrats' fundraising arm is in a better financial position than four years ago, when they lost six Senate seats. But despite the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s large war chest, the party is expected to lose ground to the Republicans on Election Day.
Republicans need to gain six seats in November to take back control of the Senate from Democrats. Fight for control of the chamber will be focused on eight close races where the leading candidate has less than a five-point advantage in the latest polls.
Six of the eight battleground races are currently held by Democratic incumbents. The GOP is expected to easily pick up at least three open seats in Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia that are currently held by Democrats, while Democrats are expected to hold four safe seats, according to an analysis by Real Clear Politics. Another three seats lean Democratic.
The DSCC, the committee in charge of fundraising for Senate Democrats, has raised more than $47 million for candidates so far this year, a 55 percent jump from the more than $30 million raised in 2010, when the last midterm elections were held, according to Federal Election Commission records. The GOP’s Senate fundraising arm, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, hasn’t closed its fundraising gap with Democrats since 2010, when it was outspent by nearly $4 million. So far in 2014, the NRSC has raised more than $37 million, a 42-percent increase from 2010, but still $4 million less than Democrats. Those totals don’t include money spent by super PACs, which don’t have to disclose their backers and can raise unlimited funds for candidates.
Fundraising is helping Democrats with momentum in the key races. In mid-July, Republicans had an 86 percent chance of taking back the Senate, according to the Washington Post's Election Lab. Now, that percentage is down to 54 percent.
Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky alluded to the Democrats’ fundraising advantage in an email pitch for donations. “Democrats have already outraised Republicans by millions of dollars, thanks to their connections with out-of-touch Hollywood elites and President Obama’s unprecedented fundraising machine,” he wrote. “I won’t mince words. If we are unable to close the fundraising gap, Republicans risk being outspent 3-to-1, 5-to-1, even 6-to-1 in several key battleground races. Even the best class of conservative candidates in a generation will struggle against those odds. We must step up and step up now.”