A Response to Claims that Sarah Palin has Run Her PAC Better than All Others

Let me start by saying this post is not meant to suggest that Sarah Palin didn’t run her PAC well, or that Palin is a bad manager. Palin has done amazing things with her PAC. Her ability to raise money from small donors and energize the base is phenomenal. She has gotten people to give money who have never donated to a political candidate before — and that is a great thing. However, the argument that the folks at Conservatives 4 Palin make that Palin will run a better presidential campaign than Mitt Romney because she spent a smaller percentage of the money she raised in her PAC is completely ridiculous.

Money raised to cash-on-hand ratio as measure of fundraising efficiency?!

C4P: The best way to compare the efficiency and effectiveness of different PACs is to compare their respective cash-on-hand/total receipts ratios. I believe the ratio is an extremely significant number because it tells you who knows how to spend money and how to save money effectively and efficiently. Under this metric, Governor Palin has clearly operated her PAC better than how Clinton, Obama, Romney, and Pawlenty have operated their PACs.

There are many reasons this argument makes absolutely no sense:

  • Political campaigns are not businesses. Unlike a business, there is no reason to SAVE money in a campaign. A surplus doesn’t mean a profit for shareholders. In fact, if a campaign ends up with a big surplus post-election day, it usually means the candidate did a poor job of running their campaign. You want to use every single penny in a campaign — a dollar the day after the election is a lot less valuable than a dollar the day before the election. Extra money means you should have bought another ad, sent out more mailers, bought more signs, hired another college kid to knock on doors, etc. The only legitimate reason to have leftover money post Election Day is if you KNOW you are going to win by a landslide. (Or lose by a landslide and the candidate loaned money to the campaign and wants the money back.)
  • Many smart campaigns actually plan on having a deficit post-Election Day. This is not a strategy I personally like, but a lot of smart managers do it. Like I said before, a dollar the day before an election is a lot more valuable than a dollar the day after. If the election is close and spending more money will make a difference, there is a legitimate argument to be made that going into debt is a good idea. If you win, it will be easy to raise money post-election to retire your debts. If you lose, it will be harder to raise the money to retire debt, but still possible with time. And, if you can’t raise the money to retire the debt — well, there is not a lot your creditors can do about it. Leftover leadership PAC money can’t be transferred to a candidate account. It isn’t like Palin or Romney will be able to use this money for their presidential campaigns.
  • The fact Palin has so much leftover money makes me think she didn’t know how to spend it properly. Palin hasn’t ever run a massive campaign. She tends to like advisors who also haven’t run massive campaigns. There are a lot of things campaigns spend money on that aren’t obvious to someone who hasn’t done it before. This could end up being a good thing for Palin if she is able to bypass some traditional pitfalls of campaign spending — but it could also hurt her if she skimps on important things. What’s important to spend money on in a campaign? Well, that depends on who you ask. The TV ad guys will tell you TV is the only thing that moves poll numbers. Direct mail vendors will swear you will lose if you don’t have a robust mail program. Your political director will tell you that you need more feet on the ground. Your volunteers will inform you that you’re losing votes left and right because you haven’t sent out enough bumper stickers… The answer is that no one really knows. Campaigns are more art than science.

  • However, things that are good predictors of how a potential candidate will run a Presidential campaign include:

  • How they’ve run a presidential campaign before. It is likely that Romney will run his Presidential campaign similarly to how he ran it in ’08. I was on his campaign in ’08. It was the best financially run campaign I’ve ever worked on. Money wasn’t wasted, expenses were accounted for, budgets were created and followed. You can bet the same will be true of his ’12 campaign. After Romney dropped out of the primary, I started working for McCain. It wasn’t the best financially run campaign I’ve ever worked on. McCain ran a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants campaign in 2000, and it was similarly run in ’08 — whether he had money or not at the time. (Note: I am not implying Palin had anything to do with the ’08 McCain budgeting and finances.)
  • The personality of the candidate. Do they focus on the big picture or details? Do they want to drill down through layers of policy, or just skim over the facts and let the staff sort out the details? Do they prefer an organized top-down style of management or are they okay with the chaos of a more Tea Partyesque bottom-up approach?
  • Previous executive experience. For Romney, you can get a pretty good idea of how he will run a campaign based on his work at Bain, on the 2002 Olympics, and as Governor of Massachusetts. For Palin, you can look at her time as Governor of Alaska and Mayor of Wasilla.
  • How they run their personal finances. Candidates who are okay with debt in their personal lives are likely going to be okay with debt on their campaign. Candidates who are very careful with money in their personal lives are likely to be very careful with campaign money.
  • Who their campaign manager is. The truth is, presidential candidates are really busy. They aren’t often at campaign headquarters. They don’t have a lot of time to go over campaign budget numbers. Who they hire as their campaign manager has a huge impact on how their campaign is run.
  • C4P: How someone runs and manages a multi-million dollar PAC tells you something about how that person would run a political campaign. After all, operating a PAC tests your ability to convince other people to give you money and tests your ability to handle their money as effectively and efficiently as possible. The experience one receives from running and managing a PAC is probably the closest experience one gets to running a campaign as the two experiences share similar mechanics and dynamics.

    Both Romney and Palin have raised an impressive amount of money through their leadership PACs. They both gave a lot of help to candidates in 2010. I would say both PACs were well run financially. The fact that Romney may have spent more money on overhead and staff just means he will have an easier time getting a full-fledged Presidential campaign off the ground in no time at all. Palin will have to start more slowly. The money left over in their PACs will make very little difference in the long run, and certainly can’t be used to predict how they will run their potential presidential campaigns.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Written by MRC guest contributor, Audrey Perry.

    Audrey Perry is a campaign and elections lawyer who worked as Deputy General Counsel for Romney in ’08. Her main tasks were getting Mitt on the ballot in all 50 states (and of course DC, Guam, Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico), and counting lots and lots of delegates. After Romney dropped out of the race, she worked as counsel for McCain-Palin where she tried to get campaign staff to abide by the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, insisted all yard signs have proper disclaimers, and tried to shut down ACORN in Las Vegas. She has also worked for Congress, Steve Poizner, the FEC and other various law firms and campaigns. Audrey blogs about politics and the law at www.legallypolitical.com.

    Romney Dwarfs the Competition in 2nd Qtr Fundraising

    The fundraising numbers for the 2012 contender’s PACs are in and it looks like Mitt Romney still has a large lead in the invisible primary. Every so often I hear people say that Mitt doesn’t connect with the people, which I feel is a bogus claim. But that obviously can’t be true when there are some who feel connected to Mitt and his message well enough to be willing to promote him with their pocket books. Besides the actual vote in the voters booth, I can think of no better evidence of real-life support than giving of one’s time and money.

    Here are the numbers:
    [table "19" not found /]

    My take:

    • Romney dwarfs the competition. Period.
    • T-Paw and Palin have stepped up their game considerably and are looking like strong contenders as far as finances go.
    • While Romney, Pawlenty and Palin have all improved their 1st Qtr. numbers by more than $300,000 each, Huckabee had minimal improvement in revenues, while his revenues were exceeded by his disbursements for the quarter. He also ends the quarter with by far the least Cash On Hand.
    • It’s very noble of Huckabee to give such a large percentage of his revenue to other candidates and campaigns, but unless he finds someway to seriously raise funds, it won’t matter if he gives 100% of his money to candidates – Romney’s total $ given to other candidates is more than Huckabee’s entire revenue. It is also more than Huckabee’s total Cash On Hand.

    I don’t mean to hammer on Mike Huckabee, but I feel I want to say something here. This is not an attack or a personal jab, but my problem with Huckabee winning the nomination is that he could be seriously outmatched in the general elections. Sure he went far in the ’08 primaries on a small fundraising network, but the generals will be a totally different ball game. It becomes an extremely expensive 50-state race – not one where you can get a lot of media attention by winning the first caucus. It looks to me that besides Romney, Palin and T-Paw will be capable of competing in such an environment. I would be incredibly worried, but still supportive, if Huckabee were the one selected to take on the Obama machine.

    Source: Romney April, May, June, Palin, Pawlenty, Huckabee

    Click here to see how these fundraising numbers compare with 1st quarter.

    ~Nate Gunderson

    MORE on fundraising: Check out Jayde’s post from this morning on how Romney’s strong fundraising makes him a strong political force.

    Romney Wows GOP Delegates in Vancouver, WA

    Mitt Romney in Washington State

    Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney takes aim at President Barack Obama while giving the keynote speech at the 2010 Washington State Republican Party Convention at the Hilton Vancouver Washington on Saturday.

    Mitt Romney delivering keynote speech at convention. He says its time to “pin the blame on the donkeys.” With regards to Obama’s apology tour, Romney stated, “No, Mr. President, America has not dictated, America has freed other countries from dictators.” Very patriotic stump speech that energized the audience.

    More details of the entire event can be read here.

    Kathie Durbin from the Columbian wrote a piece about Mitt’s keynote speech. We’ll post video of the event if it becomes available.

    I’ve seen some tweets verifying that the speech and the crowd’s reaction to it were both electric. I’d love to see some comments from anyone that was there or knows someone that was.

    UPDATE by Jayde: ‘Republican Resurgence’ – Washington State Republican Convention theme:

    (Hat tip to Bosman, Romney supporter)

    Also, Mitt has provided us with a new way to support his Free & Strong America PAC! Let’s do everything we can to promote this drive as much as possible!

    Support Mitt Romney’s Free & Strong America PAC with a $5 donation and receive a limited edition No Apology bumper sticker by clicking here.

    Nikki Haley, With Romney & Palin Support, Takes Lead in SC's Race for Governor

    Romney & Haley

    After an entire year of being the underdog in South Carolina’s gubernatorial race, Nikki Haley has suddenly captured the lead!

    She may owe this abrupt jump in polls to some really big endorsements, including initial nods from Mitt Romney, Jenny Sanford, and Erick Erickson of RedState – followed by the more recent endorsement of the rogue herself, Sarah Palin.

    More from the Washington Post:

    State legislator Nikki Haley seizes the lead in the four-way GOP primary for governor of South Carolina. An automated Rasmussen poll of 912 Republicans has Haley surging from 12 to 30 percent support in a month, leapfrogging the state’s attorney general, lieutenant governor and a congressman, all with more money and institutional support. One reason, as I posted last week — Gov. Mark Sanford’s (R-S.C.) political PAC reactivated recently and spent $400,000 on sunny Haley TV ads.

    This is only one Rasmussen poll, and unless a candidate scores 50 percent of the vote he or she goes to a run-off, but what would a Haley win mean? It would be a massive victory for the conservative grass roots, especially RedState, which have promoted her endlessly. And it would be a boon for Mitt Romney, who won Haley’s endorsement in 2008, endorsed her this year, and would obviously be expected to win it in 2012.

    Just yesterday, Romney’s PAC sent out this reminder to all Facebook Fans and Twitter followers:

    With the South Carolina gubernatorial primary election less than three weeks away, a new Rasmussen poll now shows Nikki Haley leading her closest opponent by 11 points. Nikki Haley represents a new generation of conservative leadership for South Carolina. Please consider supporting her campaign.”

    Check out her new TV ad:

    Nikki Haley’s Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/NikkiHaleyforGovernor
    Nikki Haley’s Twitterhttp://twitter.com/nikkihaley

    ~Luke G.

    Breaking: Mitt Romney to Endorse Marco Rubio for Senate

    On the heels of Governor Charlie Crist’s veto of the teacher-merit-pay bill in Florida, Mitt Romney is set to endorse his opponent, Marco Rubio, in the GOP primary for U.S. senate. An announcement will be coming tomorrow and the two are scheduled to hit the campaign trail together on Monday, according to the AP.

    Rubio already leads most polls by a substantial margin and Romney’s endorsement would appear to put the nomination completely out of Crist’s reach. Crist has set the stage for a possible independent run, despite repeatedly telling Fox’s Chris Wallace that he would not leave the GOP.

    A three-way race would appear to be much more competitive and Romney’s assistance could ultimately tip the balance in Rubio’s favor. Several prominent Republicans, such as Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee, have already endorsed Rubio’s candidacy. Mitt’s Free and Strong America PAC will donate the maximum amount of $5,000 to the Rubio campaign.

    Interestingly, Governor Crist may have played a large role in Mitt Romney’s defeat in the 2008 Florida presidential primary. His last minute endorsement of John McCain appeared to have helped tip the scales against Mitt, but this doesn’t seem to be a case of political retribution. Marco Rubio has shown himself to be the more conservative and worthy candidate for the position of United States senator. Go Rubio 2010!

    UPDATE by Jayde
    4/17/10 Press release from Mitt Romney’s Free and Strong America PAC: Romney Endorses Marco Rubio for U.S. Senate

    Today, the Free and Strong America PAC announced Governor Mitt Romney’s endorsement of Marco Rubio for U.S. Senate in Florida.

    “From his humble beginnings as the son of working-class Cuban exiles, Marco Rubio’s meteoric rise – first to Florida Speaker of the House, and now to a candidate for the U.S. Senate – is the embodiment of the American Dream. While I respect Governor Crist, Marco Rubio’s proven record of conservative, principled, and idea-driven leadership is what Florida needs now. Marco Rubio will be a reliable spokesman against the Washington culture of higher spending, higher taxes and higher debt. I am delighted to endorse his campaign and look forward to the contributions he will make in the U.S. Senate,” said Governor Romney.

    The Free and Strong America PAC also announced that it is making a maximum $5,000 primary election contribution to Rubio’s campaign.

    Free and Strong America PAC:

    Mitt Romney’s Free and Strong America PAC (www.FreeStrongAmerica.com) supports officeholders and candidates who are dedicated to advancing social, fiscal and foreign policies that will strengthen America at this critical time in the nation’s history. The guiding focus is on the core principles that have built and nurtured America since its founding – uncompromised military strength, a belief in the power of free markets and that a competitive America is one where taxes are low and government is small, an emphasis on strong families and a federalist approach to government that leaves decision-making as close to the people as possible.

    Marco Rubio CPAC address 2/18/10:

    Romney’s PAC Leads 1st Quarter Fundraising

    The first quarter fundraising results are in and the first gold medal for the invisible primary goes to Mitt Romney! In fact, his PAC brings in more in the time period than Pawlenty’s, Palin’s and Huckabee’s respective PACs combined.

    I have been curious to see how this quarter’s results would turn out since there were so many asterisks involved with last years results. Last year there were a number of factors that skewed the outcome (though Romney still led) that is just wasn’t possible to compare apples to apples. BUT this quarter, all the PAC’s are established and the playing field is level.

    Without further ado, the results:

    1st Quarter Fundraising by PAC

    [table "10" not found /]

    Note: my numbers do not show that Mitt’s PAC also raised an additional $157,000 from their affiliate state-based PACs of the same name. That puts Mitt’s actual total at $1.6 million. I’ll include that in my numbers next time around.

    My analysis:

    • Romney is far and away the leader in fundraising, but the others do have some limitations with their responsibilities for their respective jobs and public office. In any case I think Romney would still lead. An important reason to address this is that powerful fundraising will be vital in the general election.
    • Not shown in the results is the fact that Romney brought in a HUGE $950,000 in March alone, boosting his quarter total. Two possible reasons for this boost could be his constant touring through the month on his book tour as well as his “Repeal the Bill” campaign. Though he has not had any official fundraisers (that I know of) in March, his public profile was raised substantially during the period which could have resulted in more contributions. In all he did 27 Official Book Tour events in March as well as dozens of media appearances and interviews.
    • Romney disbursed far more than any candidate in the quarter, again due to his extremely busy travel schedule etc., for his book tour in March. He also has a much larger political organization to support. The good side to this is that if he decides to announce next year for office the transition will be easy because the team will be in place.
    • Though Romney’s burn rate is the highest, he still has more cash on hand than the other PACs, and still took in more than was distributed for the overall period. That’s what the money is there for – to be used.
    • Romney’s total contributions to other candidates for federal office is the highest – all of which was given in the month of May as part of his “Repeal the Bill” campaign.
    • Pawlenty impresses me with his ability to out raise Palin and Huckabee, especially given their much higher name recognition.
    • Palin’s PAC has announced that they will focus more on fundraising this quarter so look for better numbers from her next time around.
    • Huckabee’s percentage of funds given to other candidates is noble, but he is still needs to find some way to boost his overall fundraising numbers. He may get lot done on little fundraising for the primaries, but that is not going to work for the general election, should he win the nomination. One can argue that it is not as necessary for him to raise funds now and he can do so when the primaries start, but the other candidates will his the ground running with their networks leaving Huckabee in a game of catch-up. The time to build those networks is now.

    That’s it. Let me know what you think. For the analysis I did for last years numbers you can see the post I did on Feb. 5th by clicking here.

    Good work Romney and congratulations to the Free and Strong America PAC!

    ~Nate Gunderson

    Source(Full FEC filings): Romney , Pawlenty , Palin , Huckabee

    UPDATE: The Free and Strong America Releases a list of federal candidates they supported financially this quarter. You can find the press release by clicking here.

    A Thanksgiving Message from Mitt Romney

    Mitt Romney thanks soldiers“As we reunite with our families on the Thanksgiving holiday, we are reminded once again of our military men and women, standing watch in dangerous places to protect our liberties at home. Our hearts are filled with gratitude for their service, and with emotion for the families that mourn an empty place at the table, now filled with tender memories of those who in loving sacrifice have laid down their lives.”

    Original post at Mitt Romney’s Free and Strong America PAC.

    Time Is On My Side, Yes It Is.

    A well-known bit of history:  Republicans tend to nominate the guy that came close to winning in the prior election.  Come 2012, that man will be Romney.

    In a well-written article by Richard Albert at The Hill, the historical trends of Republican nominations are reviewed, and some very interesting things are discussed.  He begins by pointing out that Palin and Pawlenty have done well generating media buzz by announcing the printing of a book and the formation of a PAC, respectively. (Be it known that Romney has a book, is releasing another book, and formed a PAC long ago.)  Richard goes further in depth by pointing out that despite strategic moves by other Republican nominee hopefuls, Romney has history on his side:

    Compelling though they may be as prospective candidates, Palin and Pawlenty still lag far behind the leader in the race to carry the Republican banner in the next presidential election: Mitt Romney. But Romney is ahead of the pack thanks largely to a prominent blemish on his otherwise sterling resume: He lost the nomination in 2008.

    It is a peculiar fact of modern political history that past failure in the Republican primaries is often an indication of future success. Unlike the Democratic Party, which often confers the nomination upon first-time candidates — think, for example, of Walter Mondale in 1984, Michael Dukakis in 1988, Bill Clinton in 1992, John Kerry in 2004 and of course Barack Obama in 2008 — the Republican Party has a record of nominating battle-tested candidates who did not win the race their first time around the bend.

    Consider the list of Republican presidential nominees since 1980. Of the five nominees, four had previously lost the nomination, often to a prior loser. The most recent nominee, McCain, lost to Bush in 2000. Bob Dole, the victor in 1996, was defeated in 1988 by George H.W. Bush, who had lost in 1980 to Ronald Reagan, who had himself tasted defeat in 1976 at the hands of Gerald Ford.

    This is more than simple coincidence. Losing candidates win their second time around (or in Dole’s case, his third) precisely because they never stop campaigning. Of course, they do not run an overt or visible campaign but instead a covert campaign narrowly targeted to party leaders and opinion shapers.

    Romney has been doing just that, choosing wisely not to rely only on the cycle of history to win the nomination. Just after bowing out of the 2008 Republican race, Romney founded a political action committee, Free and Strong America, that has allowed him to raise money at a rapid pace.

    That has allowed Romney to collect IOUs in crucial primary and caucus states at an even faster clip. He has moreover kept intact the core of his campaign staff, and it stands at the ready to deploy at his call.

    When viewed alongside his frequent public appearances on television and in print, and his attendance at private conservative gatherings, it should come as no surprise that recent polls show Romney maintaining an edge over other prospective candidates, including Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal and both Palin and Pawlenty.

    All of this paints a promising portrait of Romney’s prospects for 2012. It remains to be seen whether he will actually run. But given what we know about history —namely, that it tends to repeat itself — two things are more likely than not: first, that Romney will run, and second, that he will win the Republican nomination.

    Although I don’t believe that merely being ‘the next in line’ is by any means a legitimate credential, I would also argue that Romney is doing all the right things to beef his credentials. I can’t help but think that ever since Romney bowed out in early 2008, he’s been humming the lyrics of the old Rolling Stone’s cover, ‘Time is on my side’, knowing that as long as he maintains his presence, and continues to raise money and appeal as he has been, his nomination, as history would predict, is quite likely.

    Here are those lyrics:

    Time is On My Side, America.

    Time is On My Side, America.

    Time is on my side, yes it is
    Time is on my side, yes it is

    Now you always say
    That you want to be free
    But you’ll come running back (said you would baby)
    You’ll come running back (I said so many times before)
    You’ll come running back to me

    Go ahead, go ahead and light up the town
    And baby, do everything your heart desires
    Remember, Ill always be around
    And I know, I know
    Like I told you so many times before
    You’re gonna come back, baby
    cause I know
    You’re gonna come back knocking
    Yeah, knocking right on my door
    Yes, yes!

    Support the Free and Strong America PAC – A Simple Plan

    One of the best ways to promote Mitt for 2012 is by helping him stay politically active by supporting the Free and Strong America PAC. I know that my contribution alone won’t amount to much, even if I were able to give the max amount allowed. I know that I would feel so much more like contributing if there were others out there that would be willing to pledge support along side of me. I’m quite sure there are others that feel the same as me as well.

    I’ve thought a lot about how to effectively help the PAC or organize people to help, and I can’t say that I’ve got any fantastic ideas. We’ve shortly discussed this in one of the earlier threads but I wanted to make this a topic of it’s own.

    Since I’m not sure how to go about doing this I’ve decided to start with my own pledge. Small and simple it may be, but I’m hoping others will join me and we can make a snowballing effect.

    So…. starting this month I will begin making a $20.12 contribution the PAC. I am also going to try to get 12 others to join me in doing so. Who is with me?

    Show Mitt the Money

    Every 12th day of the month I will post a blog at themittblog.com as a reminder for “Show Mitt the Money” day. Thanks to “Thought Process” for the name idea.

    I would like to keep a tally of people who has pledged to support and if they’ve opted to pledge to recruit others. Of course I would like to gather their e-mails, let them choose whether they would like their name to be private or not.

    Some questions I already have about it are: how do we keep track of pledges and people; how do we broadcast/advertise the project; do we set up a new website just for this; should we make a video promoting it; should we have certain goals; what should those goals be; etc.

    THERE IS STRENGTH IN NUMBERS. I would greatly appreciate suggestions, help, commitments etc.

    To continue discussion concerning this project I’ve created a topic for it at TheMittForums.com Stop on over there and sign up and/or add suggestions.

    ~Nate Gunderson

    Newt falls down trying to imitate Romney

    So, what really happened with Newt 2008? Many pundits, here and elsewhere, divined his Newteness’ most recent statements as an indication that he would run after all. Then, with an obscure legal explanation, he puts the stops on. What’s really going on here?

    The intrepid Byron York recites the more lengthy legal explanations behind Newt’s exit and notes:

    The problem is that all that can be perfectly true and one can still ask why Gingrich did not know until Saturday morning that his going forward could involve possible violations of the campaign finance laws. Why go so far – creating a campaign website, securing pledges, taking a leave from Fox – without knowing the basic rules?

    As the old maxim goes: “it is the first obligation of a statesman to get elected.” It appears that Newt & Co. just couldn’t figure out a legal way to get their message across and raise money at the same time. So instead… they folded.

    Compare this to Mitt Romney, who set up the Commonwealth PAC, reaching into local state entities, raising money for local leaders, and taking the money leftover to pursue a run for the President — all of it through a legal, political vehicle. This took years of research, planning and preparation. And it worked.

    Newt, for all his incredible ideas, is apparently handicapped when it comes to execution. Perhaps… his exit is all for the best.