Update: Kung Fu Quip confirms my back-of-the-envelope calculations on Romney’s fundraising. Actually, he quotes Romney confirming it.

Last night, I spent a lot of time on the phone with fundraisers and campaign operatives from around the country gossiping about the fundraising numbers. Here are some thoughts that emerged.

First, Romney’s results speak to the strength of his donor base. As Hotline’s Marc Ambinder repeatedly points out, Mitt Romney has the largest low-hanging fruit network known to politics. The idea that this is because of his "message" is laughable. The dude has zillions of rich friends. He was an investment banker and venture capitalist. Those guys have lots of dough. Proof? Compare the number of donors and contribution sizes. Romney had about 35,000, and  McCain 60,000. The average size of Romney donations was 4x larger than McCain. This tells us that a lot of people were cutting big checks to Romney. Which matches his profile (not his message)

Second, we tried to answer the question, what happened to John McCain? The first part of the answer is probably that, like Hillary, they didn’t think that they needed to start this early. As a number of reports have noted, the McCain campaign didn’t start fundraising until March. The McCain campaign simply wasn’t putting together events. The second part of the answer is there were organizational problems that have been noted. McCain startled shuffling several weeks ago. The problem that the McCain campaign has is that now they have a quarter of bad fundraising and struggling nation-wide poll numbers, although pretty good in the early states. The fundraising team is going to have to become more aggressive. And McCain is going to have to do the rubber chicken circuit.

Third, Rudy Giuliani did a great job. $15m is a great late-start number. They should be happy and proud, especially because of their low burn-rate.

Fourth, Sam Brownback substantially differentiated himself from the rest of the second tier candidates, essentially putting him in a second tier alone, and moving the rest to the third tier.



bjalder26 · May 19, 2007 at 2:32 AM

It seems as if there are those who would like us to believe that Mitt Romney has exhausted all of his possible campaign donors in the first quarter of fundraising. The story goes that all of Mitt’s rich friends have donated the maximum and can no longer donate any more, this of course, is just crazy. A simple rough calculation can be made from taking the approximately 23 million he raised divided by his approximately 35 thousand donors to get an average donation size of about $660. Since the maximum donation from a single donor for the primaries is $2300 Mitt could theoretically raise another $1640 each from the same 35 thousand donors. This would amount to another 57.4 million which shows that there is still a lot of room for his current donors to add money to his campaign. This doesn’t even account for supporters who can still make donations through their spouses.
The real question here should be how is it that Clinton, Obama, McCain and Giuliani who have massive name recognition didn’t blow Romney out of the water with their fundraising? Money should be easily flowing in from all over the country for these politicians. Everybody knows them and should, by now, have formed some opinion of them. The fact is that Romney has a lot of room to grow in name recognition, which is inevitable for him. Before the election his name will be as recognizable as any other presidential nominee, and this shows that there is a huge untapped potential for money in his campaign. My guess is that with the network Mitt Romney is building he will be able to raise as much as he could possibly need. Besides, my wife and I haven’t sent in our $2300 each yet.

eye · May 19, 2007 at 9:12 AM

I think that’s not quite right. In fact, your argument shows the problem.

For example, Romney has 35k donors and McCain had 60k. If you just multiply by 2.3k, McCain would blow Romney out of the water. The real point is distribution and ability to go back to those.

Obviously, he can’t go back to large donors much. His ability to go back to small donors is limited because he has so few of those. He just did this “Sign Up America” to address this problem.

Look, the really important money numbers come at the end of June. We learn who has what. This will have a significant impact on performance at Ames.

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