There are many narratives and side-stories involved in the race for the White House. Alone, each of these diversions are relatively insignificant, but together they paint the big picture which helps one clarify the true state of the race. Fundraising numbers are a major part of this story telling. They can reveal a lot about who has support, who is gaining traction, and whose campaign is slipping away from them. Voters donate money to primary campaigns for a number of reasons, but I believe the two greatest catalysts that bring out the donors are: One, the donor believes in the cause or the candidate, and two, the donor believes the candidate is best suited to defeated the competition. One is especially glad to donate when their motives include both of those criteria.
The 2nd quarter fundraising numbers for candidates seeking the presidency were published by the FEC little over a week ago and, as they have done in the past, the numbers tell stories. Below are some numbers I’ve compiled from the FEC filings along with some of my unprofessional, but sincere, analysis.
Notes on the table: “Large donations” equal $200 or more, small equals less than $200. On the FEC report they are labeled as “itemized” and “unitemized”, because names of donors and amounts are not reported if they are less than $200 per individual for the election cycle. In the “other” category I have included all donations from other committees as well as any refunds or rebates they received. “Refunds” includes all money given back to donors, usually because of exceeding donor limits. I reduce this before giving the total raised because for Obama is a whopping $600K. “Dispersed” is basically all money paid out by the campaign for operations, money that has been spent but not yet paid is included in the “debt” column.
The 2nd Quarter numbers:
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1-Obama’s total receipts includes a $12,750,000 transfer not raised in this quarter. I suspect this is leftover from his ’08 campaign.
2-Cain’s total receipts includes a $500,000 loan from himself to the campaign.
3-Bachmann’s total receipts includes $2,000,000 transferred from her congressional election campaign.
4-Though Cain has $500,000 listed as debt he won’t technically have to pay this since it is a loan from himself. If he wishes he can write it off at the end of the campaign.
Not shown in the tables are Jon Huntsman’s numbers. For some reason his name just was not to be found on the FEC website so I couldn’t confirm anything for him. News reports say that Huntsman “raised” $4.1 million and “less than half” of that was from himself.
- Mitt Romney is the undisputed winner in this go around for the GOP. His $18.3M raised is more than the roughly $17.4M combined total raised by the other 8 GOP candidates, including Huntsman. Romney’s total cash on hand is more than the others combined as well.
- Not reflected in the numbers is the fact that there is a Super PAC that will be dedicated to supporting Romney. The Restore Our Future PAC reported $12 million in funds raised in the 2nd quarter, with $12 million cash on hand. The PAC works independently of the official campaign and cannot coordinate with it. Donors can give unlimited contributions to the PAC, but all donations are itemized and reported publicly. The ‘Restore our Future PAC’ is unique in that it is the only Super PAC formed on behalf of a GOP candidate… that is, at least it was the only one until the recently formed Revolution PAC was established to support Ron Paul.
- Obama has impressive – or one could say ‘daunting’ – numbers for his fundraising efforts but it should be pointed out that an incumbent with no opponents usually has an easy time fundraising. One could also point out that the GOP’s combined totals of $35.7M edges Obama’s total by a couple million. Regardless, Obama will be a fierce fundrasing opponent and it will require someone with equally tough fundraising abilities (cough Romney cough) to be able to take him on.
- Though Bachmann didn’t raise as much as some of the other candidates, she does have solid financial base from which to launch her campaign. Her late starting campaign only spent 17% (burn rate) of their available funds which was boosted by $2M from her congressional campaign. Expect that very low burn rate to come to a normal level by the end of the 3rd Q.
- People may claim that Romney’s campaign is lacking true support as a vast majority of his funds came from large donations. This is folly. Even though he runs laps around the rest of the field in large donations, he is right there among the top in small donors as well. The two combined make for just as many total donors to his campaign as any other.
- Lessons Learned: The 2008 Romney campaign took in $14 million in the second quarter of 2007, and had spent $20 million in the same period. It’s not to say that that money wasn’t well spent, but obviously it did not win the nomination for him. The 2008 campaign was very much in need of high spending on ads and straw polls in order to pull Romney’s name recognition out of the low single digits and make him a national player. This time around he has the name ID already and has chosen to focus on defeating the incumbent president rather than winning non-binding polls and challenging other opponents on their records. Romney’s burn rate this quarter is a very healthy 31%, spending only $5 million, which is only one-fourth of the total for the same period in 2007. The campaign is making good on its promise to run a leaner, and tougher campaign. Admittedly, Romney’s obstacles to winning the nomination are not as great as they were last time, but whatever money he can hang on to, while still winning the nod, will be sorely needed in the general election.
- The burn rate and COH for Cain, Gingrich and Johnson look particularly dismal. From the numbers I would only guess these may be the first campaigns to fizzle out, unless the candidate(s) are willing to pump in more of their own money.
Josiah Schmidt of Race42012.com did some of his own number crunching and tallied the amount of money received by each of the candidates in the five early primary states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, and Florida.
Romney lead in fundraising in 4 out of the 5 early primary states, coming in 2nd place in the 5th. In which state did he come in 2nd? Which candidate did he lose out to in that state? The answer may surprise you. Leave a comment below with your guess before you click over to see the results.
If you want to help Romney out with those small donation numbers click here to donate directly to his campaign.