Romanoff slipping in CD6 race, or not so much

Last Friday, Politico ran a story that began with this ominous sentence:

“National Democrats are canceling more than $1 million of planned commercial airtime for Colorado congressional candidate Andrew Romanoff — a sign of waning confidence in his prospects.”

The short piece goes on to paint a bleak picture of the upstart Democrat whose high hopes of flipping one of the most competitive districts in the country must clearly be dashed in light of this recent move by the DCCC. The author, Alex Isenstadt, supports this narrative by citing private polling that shows Romanoff trailing incumbent Mike Coffman, a national mood favorable for Republicans and the “high energy” of Coffman’s campaign.

But, the Denver Post‘s Jon Murray and the folks at — writers actually on the ground in Colorado — beg to differ. In a blog post penned shortly after Isenstadt’s on Friday, Murray painted a more nuanced picture of the situation in the 6th. According to Murray, the DCCC did indeed redirect significant funds intended for pro-Romanoff TV ads, but it also said it would nevertheless chip in on the campaign’s own ad buys as well as support field operations to boost voter turnout in the district.

The blog post quotes representative from the DCCC Emily Bittner insisting “This is still a very winnable race,” in response to her Republican equivalent Tyler Q. Houlton claiming that “National Democrats have clearly given up on Andrew Romanoff.”

Colorado Pols also pointed out that, although this kind of news does make good fodder for the GOP, the reality is that Romanoff doesn’t really need $1.4 million more in TV ads. First of all, Romanoff is a prolific fundraiser, bringing in $1.1 million in the third quarter that just ended Sept. 30 — a record-breaking haul for a Colorado congressional candidate in a single reporting period, according to the campaign. And they weren’t shy about putting that cash to use. The campaign mostly spent it on buying up TV ad slots, and ended the quarter with $670,000 in its account. This is part of a long trend of Romanoff outpacing Coffman in the fundraising arena, though Coffman is sitting on a healthy pile of cash (about $1 million more than Romanoff) heading into the final quarter of the cycle.

At this point, putting more ads on TV probably won’t move the needle much, if at all. First of all, as the Post’s Murray points out, Colorado voters are getting their ballots in the mail this week. So any campaign messaging that goes out after they cast their votes, like the DCCC ad buy scheduled for the end of October, would be futile. Second is that Colorado’s 6th District might have already reached its saturation point for sleazy attack ads. Do these things really work? By now, voters are probably more likely to groan and change the channel. classifies the race as a toss-up.