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