2008 Fundraising Notes

This is an interesting pic:



Even during the stage where potential presidential candidates are just testing the supporter, staff and fundraising waters to see if a 2008 candidacy is a viable option, Feingold is already feeding off a small donor base. This is highly unusual, and speaks to Feingold's comfort level with people-powered movements. It also speaks to the maturation of the progressive movement since the 2004 cycle, which generally speaking did not participate in the 2002 period when potential candidates were testing the waters. Now, the progressive movement is both taking an active role in helping out some potential candidates, and is being actively courted by others.

Kerry has maintained a large small donors base through his still enormous email list. Clinton has probably built her small donor base primarily through direct mail, with a little email added in. It seems strange to me that while Edwards, Clark and Warner all regularly reach double-digits in Dailykos online polls, none of them seem to have any substantial amount of small donors this year. Perhaps they are simply not looking for them, which isn't exactly the best sign for candidates who have support online.

In an article on this subject, Craig Gilbert also raise an interesting question: is it possible for a candidate to win in 2008 while still using the public financing system?Another factor will be the likelihood that some candidates in the primaries opt out of the public financing system, which provides matching campaign grants to those who accept spending limits.

Dean and Kerry opted out in 2004 so they could spend more money, and experts think leading contenders will routinely do so in the future unless the system is changed and the limits are raised.

Feingold is sponsoring a reform plan, but prospects for action are iffy. The senator was asked in the interview last week if he would stay in the public finance system, even if it weren't changed.

"I'd be inclined to do so," Feingold said of abiding by spending limits in the primaries. "I really don't like the idea that it would be completely unlimited."

Cook, the political analyst, said flatly that any candidate who takes public money during the primaries and therefore accepts the spending limits will be vastly outspent by rivals who opt out.

"I just don't think you can have a financially competitive presidential campaign today under those restrictions," Cook said. A candidate who uses public financing shouldn't have any money problems during the early primaries when the nominee will be decided, nor should s/he have any problems after the convention when the second wave of public financing kicks in. The problems will arise between the period when the nominee is decided and the nominating convention. In 2008, that is a period that could last up to six months. A candidate using public financing may have to go dark for long stretches of time during those six months, and may have difficulty setting up staff in all relevant states.

Then again, perhaps too much is made of money in the presidential campaign. After all, in 2008, paid media will continue to grow even less effective as DVR's continue to rise, making free media where its at. Also, already in 2004 only 4.7% of all voters ever changed their minds during the course of the campaign, making you wonder if all this money is wasted anyway. Also, most GOTV operations are carried out by third parties, and third parties also contribute mightily to the air war during any national campaign. Further, any candidate swept up in the progressive movement might be able to run a much lighter and more agile operation, ala Ned Lamont in Connecticut. They could also expect a national volunteer base that would alleviate costs of staff and the ground game. Further, without any need to raise money, there won't be any email list abuse, as the campaign focuses more on message, issue education, and other types of activism. Still further, you won't need any fundraising staff, which will save money, you can cut down on direct mail, which will save a lot of money, and you can direct donations to other candidates, thereby earning their favor and help along the campaign trail.

So, what do you think? Is a candidate who opts into the public campaign finance system hurting himself / herself in a presidential campaign? Take the poll in the extended entry.

Watch Nevada

Today the DNC announced that Nevada will hold a caucus between Iowa and New Hampshire. Now, this caucus will be on Saturday, January 19th, 2008. This is particularly interesting and important for several reasons:
  • 1. Unlike South Carolina, the southern state chosen to have a primary shortly after New Hampshire, Nevada has no tradition as an important, early state in the nominating process. This could lead to a more unpredictable, and potentially less establishment-friendly, state of play in the caucus.

  • 2. Because it is a caucus, and because it is on Saturday, you can expect extremely low turnout. Like #1, this could again favor the progressive movement in this state.

  • 3. This year, the presumptive Democratic nominee for US Senate is Jack Carter, who for all his establishment pedigree, has become something of a movement candidate. Just as interestingly, Dana Titus, who is leading the Democratic primary for Governor, is also something of a progressive movement candidate. I'm not sure if either of these candidates fall into the A-list of movement candidates, ala Cegalis, Webb, Tester, McNerney and Lamont, but they are not bad. The progressive movement in Nevada seems to have real teeth.

  • 4. Las Vegas is not only a heavily unionized town, but it is a town heavily dominated by the Change to Win coalition. Again, another new, rising progressive power has some real teeth in Nevada.
What this could all add up to is an important state in the nominating process that is very favorable to the progressive movement. Now, Montana would have been much more favorable, but us movementarians should actually be quite pleased with Nevada's newfound importance. It should give us--the progressive movement--a much bigger say in determining the nominee in 2008 than just about any other state in the country would have. In one scenario, a progressive movement candidate could target a strong second in Iowa, leading to a victory in Nevada, that could propel that candidate into near-frontrunner status in just one week.

Or, momentum from Iowa five days earlier could complete control the results of Nevada, and having the caucus on a Saturday only three days before New Hampshire might make the momentum benefits of Nevada negligible. Either way, even the possibility that Nevada could potentially be a stronghold for movement candidates in 2008 makes the August 15th Gubenatorial primary in Nevada worth watching. If Titus wins, and wins comfortably, it can be taken as a sign of the increasing power of the progressive movement in Nevada. How Carter and Titus do in November will also be a key sign. If you are interested in the future of the progressive movement, you should now be very interested in what happens in Nevada this summer and fall.

Acceptable / Unacceptable in 2008

Gallup has an interesting new poll out. Althoguh I rarely report on 2008 polls, I will report on this one, because it has a real twist. Rather than conducting either a trial heat or favorable / unfavorable battery, they instead asked the following question:Next, I'm going to read you a list of people who may run for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008. For each, please tell me if you would find that person to be an acceptable nominee for president from the Democratic Party, or not. First, [RANDOM ORDER]. For Democrats, here were the results:

June 26-29, 496 Democrats or Democratic Leaners
(Candidate: Acceptable / Unacceptable)
Edwards: 71 / 25
Clinton: 69 / 29
Gore: 68 / 31
Kerry: 59 / 40
Biden: 44 / 37
Clark: 42 / 49
Dean: 40 / 54
Richardson: 36 / 38
Daschle: 35 / 50
Feingold: 29 / 41
Warner: 29 / 42
Kucinich: 21 / 51
Vilsack: 19 / 47

One thing to note about this poll is that when people have never heard of someone, they seem to break toward "unacceptable" on that person. For example, according to Pew, in April Russ Feingold only has a 28% name ID nationwide. However, 70% of the people responding to this poll seem to have an opinion of whether or not he would be an acceptable choice. The same problem seems to be affecting Warner and Vilsack. Pew only found a 27% name ID for Warner, yet 71% of the people responding to this poll bothered to venture an opinion anyway. For some odd reason, if someone has never heard of someone, they don't want that someone to be President. Strange, that. Doesn't anyone trust strangers these days?

Given that, who are these numbers really bad for? Wesley Clark, John Kerry and Howard Dean (not that Dean was considering running). All three have pretty high name recognition (69% for Dean, 74% for Clark, and 99% for Kerry). All three also have high "unacceptable" ratings: 40% for Kerry, 49% for Clark and 54% for Dean. I should note that the last name ID taken for Clark was during the 2004 primary season, so it is very possible his name ID has slipped quite a bit, and he too is suffering from the same problem facing Vilsack, Warner and Feingold.

Who are these numbers good for? Edwards, Clinton and Gore, but especially Edwards. The guy has a much lower name recognition than either Gore or Clinton, yet higher acceptable ratings. It still blows my mind that more people don't take him seriously in 2008. He could really run the table--and I say that as a supporter of someone else.

June 26-29, 441 Republicans and Republican leaners
Giuliani: 73 / 25
Rice: 68 / 29
McCain: 55 / 41
Gingrich: 45 / 50
Jeb Bush: 44 / 52
Frist: 38 /44
Allen: 36 / 35
Cheney: 34 / 61
Pataki: 33 / 51
Romney: 31 / 42
Huckabee: 17 / 40
Brownback: 14 / 43

The Republican side is far, far more stratified. Two potential candidates, Guiliani and Rice, are viewed as far more acceptable than the other high name ID potentials. McCain is at 41% unacceptable. Gingrich is at 50% unacceptable. Jeb Bush is at 52% unacceptable. Cheney is laughably at 61% unacceptable. Even Republicans hate that guy. Of course, Rice isn't running, and what these numbers really do is reaffirm my longstanding belief that McCain has no chance to win the Republican nomination, Guiliani maintains a real, though long, chance.

Looking at these numbers on the Republican side reminds me of a time last summer when I was stumped over who would become the Repulican nominee. Could we really be so lucky that Republicans would nominate Frist, and thus we waltz to victory carrying 40 states? Just then, a smart friend of mine reminded me of the real danger on the Republican side: Mike Huckabee. Man, that guy wouldn't have the baggage that nearly every national Republican spokesperson has now. He also doesn't have the overt racism and neo-fascism of Geroge Allen. He doesn't have the dead-cat charisma of Bill Frist (the guy who finally makes Bob Dole seem warm and exciting). Huckabee would be a serious threat. Keep your eyes peeled, and start your oppo work on that guy.

Huckabee Strongly Courting the Far Right

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has generally been flying under the radar in his bid for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, trying to position himslef as the alternative for Southern conservatives within the party. As a part of this effort, Huckabee is jumping in front of an issue near and dear to his heart: gay-bashing.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Friday he hopes the Legislature considers reimposing a ban on gay foster parents, struck down a day earlier by the state Supreme Court.

"I'm very disappointed that the court seems more interested in what's good for gay couples than what's good for children needing foster care," Huckabee said through his spokeswoman Alice Stewart.

With John McCain and Rudy Giuliani having seemingly sown up the self-proclaimed moderates within the party as a result of having held some moderate views in the past (even though they have eschewed many such views as of late), the battle for the GOP nomination in 2008 will be played out among the most conservative segments of the base.

And now, as George Allen -- who at one time seemed poised to become conservatives' favorite -- is embroiled in a very rough Senate contest, there is a real opening in the contest to court conservatives. Among the participants in this quasi-primary are Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Sam Brownback, Giuliani, and McCain, but there are real questions as to whether any of these candidates can actually carry culturally, socially and politically conservative Southerners.

Enter Mike Huckabee, a man from Hope. With Huckabee showing his willingness to bash the judiciary (check) and bash gays (check) while standing up for family values (check), he is quickly positioning himself as a palatable alternative to the cadre above.

As he does this, we as progressives must not underestimate the potential appeal of this conservative Southern Governor and overlook his bid for the White House, because if we don't pay attention to his machinations today, we will be unable to out them for what they really are in the future.

There's more...

Is Frist Actually Serious?

During his three plus years as Republican Leader, Senator Bill Frist has shown a level of ineptitude unmatched in recent memory. The Senate, which while never a well-lubricated machine at least functioned moderately well in past years, now seems to be the place where bills go to die. On a number of symbolic votes, particularly as of late, Frist has been unable to muster victory, sometimes not even getting close (the Federal Marriage Amendment failed by nearly 20 votes).

As if Frist's record as Majority Leader were not sufficiently abysmal, Frist continues to be under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for potentially engaging in insider trading.

With such an impressive resume, it's no wonder Frist is moving ahead with his nascent Presidential campaign.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's political action committee yesterday announced the hiring of an Iowa field director, a move certain to be viewed as a step toward a 2008 presidential bid.

Marcus Branstad, son of former Iowa Gov. Jim Branstad, will represent the Tennessee Republican's Volunteer Political Action Committee (VOLPAC) in the state that holds the nation's first presidential contest every four years.

The only person Bill Frist is kidding with this hiring is himself. It is nearly impossible to forsee a set of occurrences leading to his nomination for President by the Republican Party in 2008, let alone the American people electing him to four years in the White House.

Frist has done a miserable job as Majority Leader, offending progressives and moderates alike with his overt pandering to regressive elements within the GOP and losing the support of the conservative base for failing to pass many of the bills they deem as imperative.

Even in Frist's area of expertise -- medicine, which should set him out from the large pack interested in running in '08 -- Frist has made a fool of himself. From the Terri Schiavo spectacle, during which Frist diagnosed the patient via video on the floor of the United States Senate, to discussions of family planning, during which Frist claimed that AIDS could be contracted through tears and sweat, Frist has shown time and time again that ambition -- not facts or reality -- drive his politics and actions.

So Bill Frist can go ahead with a Presidential campaign, siphoning money and attention away from other Republican candidates. But if he believes that he has a shot at winning the general election in 2008, he is just deluding himself.

There's more...

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