Democrats Seize Fundraising Advantage

For decades, Republicans have been able to swamp Democrats in terms of fundraising for federal elections. While I would still prefer publicly financed federal elections, the new Democratic advantage represents a fundamental shift in the balance of electoral power in this country. From the Politico:
According to preliminary fundraising numbers released by the campaigns this week, the combined Democratic field raised about $80 million, compared with roughly $50 million collected by their GOP adversaries.

In 1999, the last presidential race without an incumbent in the race, Republicans raised $33 million in the first quarter, compared with $13 million by the Democrats, according to the Campaign Finance Institute. The disparity was also evident in 1988, when the Republican field reported $19 million in first-quarter fundraising, compared with $3 million by the Democrats.(...)

The lag in donations extends beyond the presidential field. The Republican National Committee is expected to report $25 million in first-quarter revenue later this month. Last year, the RNC raised $32 million in the same quarter.

And in 2003, the start of the last presidential cycle, it collected $29 million.

The Democratic National Committee hasn't caught, or surpassed, the RNC, which has long been the political fundraising giant. Still, the DNC has reported raising more than $14 million in the first quarter - a $6 million increase over the same quarter in 2003.
In 1988, Republicans held a 6-1 advantage in early presidential fundraising. To a certain extent this gap did not matter, because no candidate was able to raise enough money to ditch the public financing system. In 1999, the gap had closed to about 5-2, but the problem was actually much worse since George Bush was able to ditch the public financing system and put Al Gore is a serious hole from March through August. Now, eight years later, with the nominees of both parties certain to ditch public financing limits for at least the primary election (Obama and McCain have a public financing deal for the general), Democrats hold a stunning 8-5 edge. It now looks very likely that we will have more money for the presidential election than will Republicans, which presents us with a noticeable structural advantage in the general from which we have never before benefited, and against which we have typically experienced the opposite end. This advantage will also free up the DNC to continue a focus on the fifty-state strategy and down-ticket campaigns. Under Terry McAuliffe, the DNC functioned almost entirely as a surrogate to the Democratic campaign for President, and we did not do well in the congressional elections of either 2002 or 2004.

It should be noted that the increase in fundraising for Democrats is not just due to an increase in small donors. The provision in McCain Feingold that raised the hard-money donation limit for individuals from $1,000 to $2,000 (and now $2,300) was a bit of a dirty bomb that has effectively muted the new explosion of small donors. Certainly, there are committees such as the DNC which did not previously rely on small donors and are now benefiting from it tremendously, and there are many isolated examples of underground, insurgent campaigns using small donors a either key to victory or at least a surprisingly strong showing, but overall the demographics of the donor class have not changed much. For example, only about 25-30% of the $80M Democratic 2008ers raised came from small donors, which is not a big change from Al Gore's donor demographics in 1999-2000. The current Democratic increase is coming just as much from large donors who give $2,300 as it is coming from anywhere else. On the one hand, this can be taken as a sign that the increase of progressive activism these past four years has infected progressive activists of all income levels, which is good. On the other hand, this might create roadblocks for us as we move down the path of economic populism, and I am not talking about merely an "image" problem. Will our candidates "owe" large donors more than in the past?

Whatever the answer to those questions may be, I admit that I enjoy no longer facing a financial deficit to Republicans on the electoral front. Then again, and I am really not whining when I write this, another article today reminds me of just how ironic these online fundraising totals can be...

Joe Trippi Discusses Campaign $$$ on Blog Talk Radio

This Thursday (April 5) at 12 noon eastern time, Joe Trippi will join James Boyce and Nate Wilcox on Heading Left's Blog Talk Radio show to talk about the money pouring into the '08 race.  How much money are we talking about?   Huge.   Here's a table with the Hotline's final predictions (on March 30), along with reported fundraising totals:

There's more...

How liberal entrepreneurship can help solve the progressive money problem

Cross-posted to my blog, PlantingLiberally. Anything this interesting and thorough deserves promotion--Chris

Every now and again, the progressive netroots wrings its collective hands about the lack of money pouring in to movement organizations.  A good example of recent hand-wringing along these lines was Chris Bowers's extended rant about the One-Way Flow of Progressive Movement Money in late January.  (In fact, I posted in the comment threads of Bowers's post, and that comment could be considered a sort of pre-cursor to this series on liberal entrepreneurship.)

In this post, I will spend a bit of time describing some basic approaches to increasing the flow of money into the progressive movement.  I'll describe in more depth one approach, which I call liberal entrepreneurship, and give a loose definition of what it is and identify a few well-known examples.

Future posts will elaborate on this concept, by describing potential revenue streams for liberal entrepreneurs, outlining things the progressive netroots can do to facilitate liberal entrepreneurship, and identifying ideas which entrepreneurs can pick up and develop into profitable ventures.

There's more...

Mother's Milk Ain't What it Used to Be

A prediction: although contributions to presidential candidates will set an obscene record in 2008, contributions will simultaneously  reach  a turning point and will increasingly becomes less important in determining the outcome.

The first sign of this surprising turn-about will be visible folllowing the release of the March 31 reporting numbers. Although the Clinton money machine will produce a staggering amount of cash, it will fail to produce the desired result. Namely, it will not have driven out the competition. Obama and Edwards will take the news of her haul in stride.

Waving a huge wad of cash in the face of your opponent will no longer guarantee victory. In this election and here-after, to win, it might become necessary to rely on things you cannot buy: character; integrity and vision.

Sorry, but Mother's Milk Ain't What it used to be.

There's more...

AdAge article - will there be burnout? And why the need for $$$?

There's an interesting article today in AdAge entitled "Too Soon? Two-Year Prez Race Could Lead to Marketing Miscues, Burnout" 59

Two excellent quotes:

"I think the current process of spending an entire year running in order to spend an entire year running in order to get sworn in in January 2009 is stupid." - Newt Gingrich

"If you assigned the task of developing a political system to an insane asylum, this is what they would come up with." - Larry Sabato

There's more...


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