In about 12 hours, the Q1 fundraising numbers get filed. Chuck Todd has a great summary of the implications, and the Hotline has predictions. Hotline also has the Romney campaigns internal memo about how to interpret results.
First, new donors are much harder to find than existing donors. One question will be about the size and potential of a candidate’s donor base. If a donor has maxed out, you can’t go back to them for money, but if they have given small donations, especially over the internet, you can go back to them for fast money.
I hear that Sam Brownback has been building quite a good small-donor direct mail base. John McCain’s campaign was running quite well on direct mail alone before he started doing the rubber chicken circuit. And Mitt Romney’s campaign has been spending a bunch on telemarketing.
There are a series of questions that you can ask to understand these. You can ask about average contribution size, the percentage of maxed-out donors, etc.
Second, cash on hand matters a little, but not too much. So expect to hear a lot about it. All of the campaigns have substantial expenditures for office setup, prospecting for mail and phone lists, etc. John McCain’s buses are not cheap. COH will be much more important, especially for 2nd tier candidates, in Q2. Then, the numbers are basically about how much can be blown on Ames.
Third, it will be interesting to see where all money is being spent. Geographically. How many places do campaigns have staffers? I am not sure what it would tell us, but I am pretty sure that it will tell us something interesting…
Next week is going to be fun.