(Note: This is this my own analysis of things as I see it. I do not represent Romney’s PAC in any way, nor have any connection to them. But I am available for hire should they ever call on me. No, I kid.)
With the last bit of fundraising data in (the total number of donors to Romney’s PAC), we can now make a proper evaluation of the fundraising abilities of the 4 most-likely-to-run GOP candidates and their respective PAC’s. One major problem is that there are so many uncommon denominators in the results that there is no easy indication of a clear winner, nor of a clear loser.
First let’s look at the raw numbers. Before anyone gets too excited about it, you should recall that T-Paw’s PAC was only in operation in the fourth quarter, plus other variables that I will explain.
|Party Affiliation||2008 absentee ballot requests||2012 absentee ballot requests||Current 2012 requests as a % of 2008 totals||Estimated 2012 totals as a percentage of 2008 totals
(*** Disbursed=expenditures COH= Cash on hand $ to Cand.= money given to GOP campaigns for office)
Review of performance:
Mitt Romney Mitt Romney’s Free and Strong America PAC, is the most cut and dry scenario we have of the four. His PAC was intact for the entire year. He didn’t have distraction or obligations that others did. The numbers here tell the most of the story. He raised money very well, and he notably spent more also. The story here that is not told in the numbers is even though most of the would-be GOP nominees gave about 2% to other GOP candidates for office, Romney’s impact on behalf of other GOP candidates can arguably claim to be the highest as he has had time and means to hold many fundraisers for them. A fundraiser bringing $200,000 (as some did) is of lot more value than the max $5000 his PAC can contribute directly to them. A few of the unseen benefits of Romney expenditures include items of great reward: freedom to travel as necessary to endorse, raise funds, do media appearances and speeches, and otherwise keep his name and face out there. Plus he is able to maintain he excellent campaign team through to the next election cycle, which is virtually the same team that helped propel Senator Scott Brown to victory.
Mitt Romney’s Grade: a (solid) B+ Romney raised the most (from the highest number of donors) and has the most cash on hand, but with his network and relative freedom that would be expected. Expectations are the only reason I don’t score him higher.
Sarah Palin SarahPAC didn’t quite pull in as much as the FSA-PAC, or from as many donors, be she certainly didn’t focus on it much because of a number of factors: SarahPAC didn’t form until a couple months into year (she was still Governor of AK at the beginning of ’09), she focused some fundraising efforts on her legal funds rather than her PAC, and much focus of the year went to writing and touring for her new book. Even so she has a healthy amount of cash on hand that she’ll be able to disperse of more liberally (to conservatives) as we go throughout 2010. Also her star power is a huge asset at this time. She may not have raised as much, but it won’t matter as she can use some of her own new found wealth to more than compensate for a relatively small difference in total number of dollars raised.
Sarah Palin’s Grade: B- With a little more focus on her PAC she should be able rival Romney’s numbers. The decision to focus on that is hers to make. With her new contract with FOX News, I’m not sure if that will happen. But then again the net benefit of being on FOX may be more than any funds she can raise… unless her contract brings her to the point of over exposure. I believe there is some risk in that.
Tim Pawlenty T-Paw and his Freedom First PAC got a much later start than the rest but it has impressed with his good-sized catch. The high average dollars per donor shows that he does have at least some ties and connections that will be vital should he decide to run (I’m sure he has already decided.) Even so, one should not make that mistake of thinking that since he only had 1 quarter to raise funds that $1.3 Million x 4 = $5.2 Million for the year. Certainly as some donors begin to max out ($5000 max contribution) that rate cannot be continue to be sustained. One way to be certain is to see where we are at the end of June 2010, where it will be easier to compare apples to apples. One other item that limits his current freedom is that he is still a sitting Governor whereas the others are merely former Governors and are free to move about.
Tim Pawlenty’s Grade: A- Sometimes it’s not how much you’ve raised, but how you did compared to expectations. I expected some, but not that much, especially given his lower name recognition.
Mike Huckabee HuckPAC is a little harder to grade than the others for the reason that- yes, he’s got some boots on the ground, but does that make up for the relatively low fundraising? Huckabee also has a distraction with his show on FOX. That kind of weekly exposure should be a boon to name recognition, which it is as evidenced by him being right at the top of most polls, but it all needs to transfer into some increased ability to raise funds. Huckabee did great on meager funds in the 2008 election, and it may turn out similar for him in the 2010 primary, but such a plan would not work in the general election. Raising more funds will be a must for him at some point in the future.
Mike Huckabee’s Grade C+ In comparison to the amount that T-Paw raised in one quarter, and to Romney’s 3 times average dollars per donor, the fundraising is unimpressive. BUT… 16,000 donors is a very good number. I would think to give a lower grade otherwise.
Newt Gingrich: Newt? Hey, he doesn’t have a PAC. Yes, but many are quick to point out that his 527 (American Solutions for Winning the Future) raised $6.4 Million. That’s more than the others put together! … Yes, but a 527 group is a totally different animal. It does not have the $5000 donation limit that PAC’s have. They are also limited in that they cannot directly support (or oppose) candidates for office …. just for clarification.
Newt’s Gingrich’s grade N/A Apples to apples… Besides my guess is that he will only tease and hint at running, but will not enter the fray.
Result: Yes, in my opinion the winner by a slight degree is T-Paw, mostly because of the ever present “expectations”. Time will tell if his fundraising is sustainable. If it is, welcome to the top-tier.
One other note: we should see the low percentages of money given to other campaigns go up as we get closer to the 2010 elections. The year 2009 was more of a ‘fill up the treasure chest’ type of a year.
FEC filings (for you data geeks): Free and Strong America PAC, SarahPAC, Freedom First PAC, HuckPAC