A Nation Of Givers

Bumped - Josh

There are varyingreports that Barack Obama's June wasn't a huge fundraising success. The campaign denies reports that their haul last month was only $30 million.

Nonetheless, there's a couple explanations floating around that feel slightly off-target to me.

Josh Marshall:

...small dollar giving seems highly dependent on the intensity of the moment and the spikes of the campaign cycle. During the heat of the Obama-Clinton battle, giving money was one of the most direct ways supporters around the country could participate in the fight -- except when the campaign trundled into their states. And that applies to both campaigns since, by any standard other than up against Obama, Clinton's 2008 monthly numbers were astounding too.

Yglesias:

The combination of Obama mostly focusing on showing his more centrist side while also maintaining a stable lead in the polls seems to me to discourage activists from giving to the campaign. People are thinking to themselves, why not save that money and by a G3 iPhone or give it to progressive Senate candidate?

(Let's assume Matt's kidding about the iPhone.)

The larger implication from both arguments is that if Obama's fundraising numbers are low, the reason is likely a political motivation on behalf of supporters: either lower enthusiasm or a feeling that any one small-dollar donation isn't needed. Both explanations sound at least partially valid.

But given yesterday's "nation of whiners" kerfuffle, aren't we missing a larger context? The economy is in terrible shape. And for the same reason that our country's economic problems aren't purely psychological, shouldn't we assume that political giving from middle and lower-income people might drop off their list of priorities?

Tags: Barack Obama, Election 08, Fundraising (all tags)

Comments

45 Comments

The economy has been bad

for several months, including months where Obama (and Hillary) were breaking fundraising records.  I don't find the "bad economy" explanation very plausible.

by JJE 2008-07-11 08:37AM | 0 recs
Re: The economy has been bad

True, although gas prices have gone up further, and now it's summer.

by Josh Orton 2008-07-11 08:39AM | 0 recs
Re: The economy has been bad

I think gas prices are definitely a part of it, but I tend to agree that it has to due with a perceived lack of urgency at this point in the campaign.

by ArkansasLib 2008-07-11 09:08AM | 0 recs
The price of gas may have a lot to do with it.

Could high gas prices be a plot to dry up Obama's funding? My tinfoil hat is at the cleaners, so I'm not sure.

And I'm no grammer cop (probably the worst at it on the blog), but even I know you shouldn't say, "There's (there is) varying reports," and, "there's (there is) a couple explanations."

Front page diarists have to try harder.

by Beren 2008-07-11 08:41AM | 0 recs
Re: The price of gas may have a lot to do with it.

Thanks Mom.

by Josh Orton 2008-07-11 08:59AM | 0 recs
"Thanks Mom."

That's a childish reaction. You'll probably never embarrass yourself (and this blog) that way again. So I should think you'd be sincerely grateful for having it pointed out to you (in a self deprecating manner, no less).

by Beren 2008-07-11 09:20AM | 0 recs
Re: "Thanks Mom."

<sigh>

by Josh Orton 2008-07-11 09:48AM | 0 recs
by Beren 2008-07-11 10:01AM | 0 recs
Re: You're welcome.

Jeez, settle down, will ya.  Blogging isn't the same as writing an article in the NYT, and razzing front-pagers about grammer choices seems like a waste of time.

by HSTruman 2008-07-11 10:11AM | 0 recs
grammar
/snark
i just had to join in on this thread haha
by sepulvedaj3 2008-07-11 10:19AM | 0 recs
Re: grammar

Sincere thanks.

(See -- how hard was that?)

by Beren 2008-07-11 10:25AM | 0 recs
Re: grammar

Why are people even like this?

A word of warning: don't ever go to MY's site, he screws up like this all the time. Why I noticed he did a "write" for "Right" today.

by MNPundit 2008-07-11 02:04PM | 0 recs
The reaction did seem a bit 'over.'

by Beren 2008-07-11 02:44PM | 0 recs
Re: grammar

Hey, fair enough -- although I'll blame quick typing for my error.    

Sue me for thinking that calling out a front pager for something like this is rude...

by HSTruman 2008-07-11 10:43AM | 0 recs
Re: grammar

Look on the bright side. Josh won't embarrass himself nor the blog again by using  "is" in the plural.

Now if we could only get the front pagers to stop using "that" instead of "who" to refer to people.

by Beren 2008-07-11 02:49PM | 0 recs
Josh should settle down

and learn to accept friendly advice which helps him and the blog.

by Beren 2008-07-11 10:19AM | 0 recs
Re: You're welcome.

are you trying to be rude or does it just come naturally?

by Todd Beeton 2008-07-11 10:15AM | 0 recs
Are you trying to be rude

Not at all. Are you? A little oversensitive to helpful advice, aren't we?

We's just trying help each other out, right?

by Beren 2008-07-11 10:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Are you trying to be rude

Hells yeah.

by MNPundit 2008-07-11 02:07PM | 0 recs
Re: &quot;Thanks Mom.&quot;

A childish reaction to a childish comment?  Who could have expected such a thing?

by Denny Crane 2008-07-11 10:43AM | 0 recs
You're forgiven

by Beren 2008-07-11 10:54AM | 0 recs
for being so stuck about grammar

you should learn to spell it correctly

by sepulvedaj3 2008-07-11 10:19AM | 0 recs
Re: for being so stuck about grammar

See my gratitude upthread.
And like I said at the start of this thread, I'm terrible at grammar. But when people come to this site, my bad grammar isn't the first thing they see on the front page.

Is we clear on that?

by Beren 2008-07-11 10:29AM | 0 recs
Definitely My Reason

I ended up giving a couple of hundred bucks overall during the primaries, and I'd love to be able to give a lot more for the GE. But last month all I could do to help was buy another $30 t-shirt.

Any iPhone, 3G or not, is absolutely out of the question.

by Hatch 2008-07-11 08:45AM | 0 recs
We don't know what the numbers are

so who knows.

Perhaps Obama pulled in >$50 and that WSJ article which his a GOP rag just pulled out the $30 million out of their ass and made it up.

If the Obama campaign only hauled in $30 million than I think they would have released their numbers today since the WSJ published an article stating that.

But Politico is even saying that they never publish Obama numbers for the month until they get it from the campaign for they have been way off before.

by puma 2008-07-11 08:45AM | 0 recs
Re: We don't know what the numbers are

The WSJ is just a GOP rag.

I was hoping someone among all you hand-wringers would figure that out.

by spirowasright 2008-07-11 09:07AM | 0 recs
Re: A Nation Of Givers

The best explanation I've heard is that it's just not as heated as it was during the primaries - with another vote just around the corner I felt a whip on my back to donate more that I'm just not feeling right now.

There may be ideological reasons to - I'm sure they don't help - but the drop in small donations doesn't correlate with any political moves by Obama.  People gave right after he locked up the nomination and then it just dried up.

by MeganLocke 2008-07-11 08:50AM | 0 recs
Re: A Nation Of Givers

The primaries are over and we are not yet in the general election season, so their is a lull in giving. Also, Obama is no longer a new face, he must now rely on his great organizational skills to keep the fundraising up.

by Zzyzzy 2008-07-11 08:53AM | 0 recs
nailed it

Great post.  The one danger of relying on small
donors is the economic downturn.  Much of his donor base are younger voters who don't make a lot of money.  Gas prices are sefinitely a factor.

I don't think Obama's pivot to the center will be a factor until this month.  At least he still outraised McCain for the month (that's the talking point); though the RNC's massive money machine ensures a GOP dollar edge in this election.

by esconded 2008-07-11 08:53AM | 0 recs
Re: A Nation Of Givers
You've got a point there.
BTW, just beacause the Democrats have trouble raising money doesn't mean that they can't win. Take it from an ex-Republican, they can still pull it off.
by spirowasright 2008-07-11 09:05AM | 0 recs
Re: A Nation Of Givers

Right after Obama won the nomination I got a call from a fundraiser, and he explained to me that McBush was raising lots of money and that the Obama campaign needed to boost their fundraising, and asked me to pledge money, and I did.  I assumed that they did really good on those days they were making phone calls.  This was before FISA.  So, I would bet that the Obama campaign did really good the first couple of weeks in June.  Also, the Obama campaign had more big donor fundraisers in June than in May or April.  If small donor funds went down, the big money donors went up.  So, I would say that Obama's campaign should have at least taken in $40 million or more.

by Spanky 2008-07-11 09:11AM | 0 recs
McCain still has access to huge money

The outpouring of donations to Hillary and Barack may have lulled some into complacency that regular folk, and unions, had finally lanced the huge advanatage that big money has had in political campaigns at least for the past 30 years.

At the end of the day McCain can get his free money from the FEC and then tap the super rich to max out to the RNC, to state and other committees and then do unlimited giving to 527s.  If you are WalMart heirs sitting on more than $120 billion in assets, even a $1 billion would be a reasonable amount to spend to elect politicians who reduce taxes on high wage earners and investment income and on estates.

So the money juggernaut is warming up to swamp the American political process once again this fall.  The need to escalate giving for Democrats is paramount or else we will be swamped.  We cannot count on the rich realizing how bad McCain and the remaining Republicans in the Congress are, not from a policy perspective, but just from campaigning perspective.   Not only do they think they have the money to perform complete make-overs on these political animals (didn't want to say pigs) but they directly or indirectly own most media outlets.  

by Joburg 2008-07-11 09:23AM | 0 recs
Re: A Nation Of Givers
One of Obama's aides made a rebuttal:
The Wall Street Journal report of our fundraising numbers is way off the mark. It appears that after 18 months, some in the press still haven't realized that anyone who is talking about numbers doesn't know what our numbers are.
by vcalzone 2008-07-11 09:25AM | 0 recs
Re: A Nation Of Givers

I think it's a whole host of issues, but no one is talking about the economy. I think it has very little to do with his move to the center. I think it's partially because he is polling well and everyone jokes about how much money he has. Why bother donating to a sure thing? I argued a number of times with people that his numbers weren't as good as they seemed. The RNC has a huge cash advantage and talking about how Obama is rolling is cash will only force struggling people to hold on to their money.

by Jawis 2008-07-11 09:56AM | 0 recs
Good Point

They might have raised so much in June that they're afraid donations will drop this month when the numbers come out. Obama fundraisers may be leaking fake numbers to journalists before the real ones come out in order to give July an early boost. That would be quite a clever move.

by Hatch 2008-07-11 10:16AM | 0 recs
i gave

a lot of money during the primaries from last january until march or so when i maxed out. Now i am broke as a dog.

by sepulvedaj3 2008-07-11 10:21AM | 0 recs
Phil Gramm is right!

OK, not really.  But I agree with the commenter above who suggests that this explanation is problematic because the economy has been had this whole time.  I would counter that idea by suggesting that it's possible that the bad economy has been made salient for people in the last couple months as a result a rash of stories about consumer price increases that actually began happening a while ago.

But on the whole I think Josh is largely right.  The primary campaign lasted five months from the first vote to the last; by contrast, we are just under four months away from general votes being cast.  We're in a lull, and there's nothing going right now to excite people's wallets open.

by aaronetc 2008-07-11 10:38AM | 0 recs
Re: A Nation Of Givers

I actually agree with Josh Marshall's point and wrote a diary about it yesterday. There have been no big speeches or milestones in the form of primaries that would push people to make donations.

Also, McCain had a few months to rev up the fundraising machine. And the divided Democratic party, with many of the "fat cats" former Clinton supporters, surely doesn't help.

by animated 2008-07-11 10:40AM | 0 recs
Re: A Nation Of Givers

Does he really need more money right now?  

I think giving to downticket races, which are just as important, could be on people's minds as well.  

by JustJennifer 2008-07-11 10:47AM | 0 recs
Re: A Nation Of Givers

It's Summer folks... going to break 100 here in Denver...people tend to gear down.
Have the millions of Clinton supporters retired her debt?
Many are involved with local campaigns in regard to effort and $$

by nogo postal 2008-07-11 11:08AM | 0 recs
Re: A Nation Of Givers

Just 30$? A. How much did McSame bring in June? And. 2. Since when did bringing in 30 MILLION DOLLARS$$$ in one month's time become a failure?

by onlinesavant 2008-07-11 04:06PM | 0 recs
Re: A Nation Of Givers

There were also a number of national and international disasters recently, from Midwest flooding to Burmese typhoons to Chinese earthquakes. Perhaps Obama's small donors donated to those instead?

by Gpack3 2008-07-11 05:01PM | 0 recs
Re: A Nation Of Givers

Interesting. I am getting a 3g iphone. I'm not giving money to Obama - anything he was getting is going to the ACLU, because they're going to sue to try to block FISA. For me, liberty comes first. I might - MIGHT - have forgiven him not taking an extremely strong stand and trying to rally support to defeat it. But I won't forgive him going back on supporting a filibuster, and I sure as hell won't forgive him for voting for it.

He's better than McCain, and he'll have my vote - but the ACLU gets my cash.

by mattw 2008-07-11 05:58PM | 0 recs
Re: A Nation Of Givers

Personally, my $15 contribution for June was based solely on my desire to get the car magnet.  Otherwise, I would have given nothing.

Under normal circumstances, I would have given what I had been in the months before: about $100 - 150.  Why not?  Four letters: FISA.

Will I re-up later?  Probably.  But I don't mind, at this point, hitting the campaign where it hurts--in their pocketbook.

And I hope someone notices this entry.

by dell 2008-07-11 06:19PM | 0 recs
by kevinlo529 2008-07-12 08:34AM | 0 recs

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