The Upshot

Outside GOP groups already planning for 2012 elections

Holly Bailey, Yahoo News
The Upshot

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Election 2010 isn't over yet, but outside conservative groups collectively known by critics as the shadow GOP are already looking ahead to the 2012 campaign.

As the New York Times' Jim Rutenberg writes Monday, two of the biggest groups—American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS—signaled to donors last week that they plan to continue their advertising assault against Democrats almost immediately after the midterms.

That push will begin with the upcoming lame duck session of Congress, which is expected to take up a long-expected vote on extending the so-called Bush tax cuts. From there, the groups, which were founded with help from Bush strategists Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, plan to raise and spend millions of dollars targeting Democrats in the new Congress.

All of that is leading up to the 2012 race, in which the groups plan to spend millions opposing President Obama's re-election bid. "It's a bigger prize in 2012, and that's changing the White House," American Crossroads Chairman Mike Duncan tells the Times. Duncan formerly headed the Republican National Committee.

This is not great news for Democrats, who had hoped the groups would vanish or at least take a break, as other outside organizations have in the past. But this has never been the plan. As The Upshot previously reported, the outside GOP network is aiming for longevity, modeling itself not after so-called 527 groups but rather Democratic think tanks such as the Center for American Progress.

The big unknown for the GOP: Will donors be as willing, so quickly after Election Day 2010, to ante up sums approaching the millions they've already spent on the midterms? Or will they sit on their checkbooks until the next big effort to target Obama shifts into gear in 2012? Even after successful elections, political parties on both sides have run up against so-called donor fatigue--and that's probably why the Crossroads groups are beginning their appeals now.

(Photo of Karl Rove: Tony Dejak/AP)

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