Clinton low on money...but this low?!

Along with a change of her political fortunes as the result of her devastating loss in Iowa and dropping poll numbers in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton's once-flush presidential campaign now faces a problem that few would have expected at this point: a sudden urgency to raise a lot of money fast.

With momentum against her and a battle plan that appears to be staking everything on the big and expensive states like New York and California that hold their primaries on February 5, Clinton's campaign is putting new pressure on its fundraisers to come up with the cash she will need to carry her through. "Clearly, by every measure, I hear they are in a real financial crunch," says one prominent fundraiser. "Here's the dilemma: You have a situation where there clearly is a full court press to raise more money, but considering the state of decline of the campaign, there's a real question of whether people are going to want to give. It's more than just raising money; you've got to give people a sense of potential."

One reason for the new drive to raise cash quickly is the fact that Clinton spent lavishly on what turned out to be a debacle in Iowa. Numbers circulating among fundraisers -- but not confirmed by the campaign -- suggest that the campaign may have as little as $15 million to $25 million left on hand. While that is enormous by historic standards, it is less than half the nearly $50.5 million she had at the end of September (when she enjoyed a significant advantage over Barack Obama's $36 million on hand).

What's more, campaign officials believe that Obama's Iowa victory has almost certainly been accompanied by a financial windfall for his campaign, particularly over the Internet, where he has had a far stronger operation than Clinton has. The Obama campaign declined to provide any figures, with spokesman Bill Burton saying only: "There's a lot of energy and enthusiasm, and it's continuing to increase."

Clinton fundraisers say there is also a new emphasis in the appeals they are getting from the campaign. Where they previously focused on bringing in $4,600 donations -- pressing donors to "max out" by giving the legal limit of $2,300 for the primary election and $2,300 for the general -- they are now being asked to drum up $2,300 contributions. "They started out running a general election campaign," says one. "Now there's a real fixation on the primary." The day after the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, the campaign staged a "callathon" to encourage smaller contributions.

Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson notes that fundraising has always been a high priority for her operation, which he says continues on sound financial footing. "We have considerable resources," he says, adding that the campaign is flush enough to be buying large amounts of air time for television ads in New Hampshire, as well as in South Carolina and Nevada, where the next two contests will be held. e/0,8599,1701153,00.html

There's more...

Lobbyists Love Hillary

Hillary Clinton dwarfs her Democrat and Republican rivals in endorsements from registered K street lobbyists.  Listed below are the lobbyists who have declared their support for Clinton, along with the companies they represent.

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Obama Campaign sells Trinkets, Lists Buyers as Supporters

The New York Times has a very revealing and somewhat disturbing story about the Obama Campaign's strategy to raise money and artificially bump up their supporters.

They paid nothing to hear him, but spent $40,000 on Obama T-shirts, baseball caps, buttons and other knickknacks. And the Obama campaign registered each of the purchasers as one of the record 258,000 contributors it signed up in the first six months of the year.

This is an unusual manner to claim supporters. Most politicians give this stuff away. I wonder if everyone that buys a ticket or trinket realizes they are being claimed to be an Obama supporter. Maybe the rest of the candidates should follow suit. Then they could pump up their numbers too.

There's more...

Democratic Presidential Candidate Expenditures

Open Secrets has a new feature that breaks down how presidential candidates spent money during the first three months of 2007. Just click on any candidate, and on the left hand column you will see an "expenditure" link that offers a complete breakdown. For example, here is some interesting--and incomplete--info for the six Democratic candidates who spent more than a million dollars in the first quarter of 2007 (in thousands of dollars spent):.

Democratic Presidential Candidate Expenditures, 2007 Q1
CandidateSalaries / BenefitsSupplies + RentPollingFundraisingTravelCampaign EventsInternet Media

Here are some quick thoughts:
  • Obama spent the most in all of these categories, except for salaries / benefits, where Edwards leads, and polling, where Biden stunningly leads.

  • Obama's expenditures on Internet media are five times more than the rest of the field combined. Dodd is actually in second place in that category.

  • Edwards and Obama are spending a ton of money on travel. I'm not really sure what that means, except that they might be travelling with large groups.

  • Reports that Edwards did not spend any money on polling appear to be inaccurate. Richardson actually spent the least amount of money on polling in Q1, but that probably changed in Q2 after he started running ads in Iowa and New Hampshire. Focus groups for ads and post ad-buy polls cost money.

  • Clearly, the numerous, large campaign events for Clinton and Obama don't come cheap.

  • The staff and office supply gaps between Clinton, Obama / Edwards and Dodd / Biden / Richardson show a real problem for second tier candidates. They just don't have the same size of operation to manage a campaign.

  • What's up with Biden's massive fundraising and polling expenditures? It is funny how much money he has spent on those aspects of a campaign, with spending only $2,600 on actual campaign events. Not exactly a grassroots campaign.

  • Clinton appears to be getting the most bang for for fundrasing buck, but it is important to remember that is probably the result of years of work building up a huge donor network. Many other candidates have to start, relatively speaking, almost from scratch.
Fascinating stuff, and there is a lot more info where that came from.

Update: The money Edwards supposedly spent on polling doesn't actually seem to be polling. Check it out for yourself. I have no idea how those expenditures count as polls.

Supporting Progressive Blogs

Over the past two years, I have commented at great length about the need for more sustainable funding of the progressive, political blogosphere. Despite its great importance to both the Democratic and progressive causes, which I have previously summarized in The Emergence of the Progressive Blogosphere (with Matt), The Role of The Netroots in Democratic Victories, and On Preaching To The Choir, it operates on a shoestring budget and volunteer labor. If it continues to do so, eventually it will collapse. That would be a huge tragedy, and a great win for conservatives. The Democratic and progressive establishment should fund the progressive, political blogosphere and netroots. They need us, and we need them. Neither of us can win without the other.

Perhaps the most striking example of this problem came in the Illinois 6th congressional district in 2006. Despite having virtually the entire weight of the local and national Democratic establishment behind her, Tammy Duckworth still only edged under-funded, ne'er organizationally endorsed, people-powered Christine Cegalis in the Democratic primary by all of 3%. Then, in the general election, Duckworth received over $3M in DCCC support, making her one of the ten best nationally funded Democratic House candidates in the entire country. However, she still ended up losing an open seat in a Democratic wave year in Rahm Emanuel's backyard. (Gee--Emanuel's backyard? I wonder why she got so much funding, especially considering that Cegalis got virtually none when she was the nominee in 2004). I don't know how much local progressive movement activists worked for Duckworth in the general, but it wouldn't surprise me if they did little outside of voting for her. I mean, I'd have been pissed off at the way the machine crushed Cegalis's grassroots campaign, too, and not exactly eager to go bang on doors or drum up small donors as a result. In fact, in more than one conversation I had with friends after the election, there was a general sentiment that Duckworth's defeat was payback for the Democratic establishment's often clandestine--and often not so clandestine--support for Joe Lieberman in the general election against Democratic nominee Ned Lamont. "They took out one of ours, so I'm glad they lost one of theirs," was the mood in many movement circles. Of course, the tit for tat resulted in the Democratic nominee losing both races.

We were quite fortune that the splits we saw in IL-06 and CT-Sen did not happen on a wider scale. If they had, Republicans would still control Congress. Gong back further, such a split would also have resulted in the privatization and destruction of Social Security. In the fights that we did win in 2005-2006, victory only happened because the establishment and the movement were on the same page. Neither side can win without each other, as virtually every election made perfectly clear from 1994-2004. The Democratic Party was in the wilderness until the progressive movement rose to challenge the conservative movement. It was only when the progressive movement reached maturity that Democrats took over Congress. They needed us to close the fundraising gap, convince them to run on Iraq, stretch the electoral playing field, keep the base excited, challenge pro-Republican media coverage, and generate new campaign ideas. At the same time, movement challenges to neoliberals and DLC-nexus control over the party have never succeeded unless we have formed a coalition with dissenting establishment elements. Howard Dean getting crushed by a wide array of backroom alliances late in the 2004 primary campaign, but requiring the backing of state party chairs to win the DNC, is a good example of this. We can't win without each other.

So how can the Democratic and progressive establishment support the progressive blogosphere? I constantly hear about ways we can help them, but they are often perplexed when it comes to finding a way to help us. One of the problems in achieving sustainable funding from Democratic and progressive sources for the progressive political blogosphere is that we are chaotic. In this sense, "chaotic" means difficult to control, and viewed as a potential liability within the established media and donor community. What happens if they give us money, and we say something they don't like? Or, perhaps even worse, what happens if they give us money, and we start only saying things they like, thus creating a quid pro quo, and destroying the vibrant independence of thought and energy that makes us so vital? It isn't an easy problem to solve, especially when one considers that there are hundreds of different bloggers, who operate under a variety of different legal mechanisms, to potentially support. Yet more chaos.

However, there is one simply solution for even the most risk averse Democratic campaign and progressive organization: buy Blogads. For many bloggers, blogads is their primary source of revenue. Further, there are many networks in Blogads that makes reaching your target audience easy. For national campaigns, there is The Liberal Blog Advertising Network which reaches virtually every large, national progressive blog. For environmental groups, there is the Environment and Sustainability Blogad network. Women's groups can use the Feminist Bloggers network, and GLBT groups can consider the Gay Blogads network. And the list goes on and on. Any group or campaign, no matter your issue and no matter if you are national or local, can find a group of potentially supportive blogs and advertise ont hose blogs.

This will get money to your friends in the blogosphere. It will get you noticed in the blogosphere. It will also get you a very good CPM, one that is often 3-4 better than any other advertising source. It won't make you liable for anything a blogger might say. It will allow the blogger to maintain her or his independence. If you use one of the big networks, it will reach a wide swatch of people at once. Basically, it is a simple, low-risk way to help the progressive blogosphere. While not solving all of our problems, is a good start. And Feedburner works for a lot of blogs too.

So, if you are running a large campaign or advocacy group, and you want to help the progressive blogosphere, go to Blogads, go to Feedburner, make some accounts, and start buying some ads. We need this really badly. Blog advertising always struggles, except in the few months leading up to an election. Right now is no exception, as most blogs on the liberal blogad network are running two ads or fewer. On MyDD, we only have one ad running right now. Help us out, because we can't help you out if we have to close our doors due to lack of funds.


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