Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

Keeping a close eye on developments in the 2008 U.S. Senate races

Friday, April 06, 2007

Dole Falls $1.3 Million Short of Fundraising Goal

  • North Carolina: Back in January:

    U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole said in a fundraising letter this month that she needs to raise nearly $1 million a month through Election Day 2008 to defend her seat in Congress.
    OK, so if Liddy Dole's goal is to raise a million bucks a month, then, for the first quarter of 2007, i.e. January through March, her goal must be $3 million. Right? Well, if that's the case, she fell considerably short:

    Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole raised more than $1.7 million during the first quarter of 2007, her campaign said Thursday.
    Her goal was $3 million for the quarter, or $1 million per month, and she only raised $1.7 million, or just over half of her previously-stated goal. And, bad news, this haul probably represents much of the low-hanging fruit for Dole. For any incumbent with an existing database of donors (much less a former Chair of the NRSC!), previous givers are the easiest targets to ask for contributions in the new year. If this represents the low-hanging fruit, Dole isn't going to approach the $20 million she herself has communicated is her target for the campaign. By her own measure, she has fallen considerably short of her goal in the first quarter of 2007. Her take next quarter will demonstrate how much low-hanging fruit and new donors are left - will her quarterly take for Q2 increase, showing some vitality, or drop off, showing imminent weakness? (Hat tip: Blue South)

  • 17 Comments:

    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Let's count the number of assumptions that this post makes:

    1) That the "$1 million a month" goal was not an average, but an actual target for each individual month;

    2) That the money she raised this quarter was all from "low-hanging fruit";

    3) That, in the event #2 is correct, those sources are all tapped out.

    The first one is easily the most egregious.

    Why would you assume that she'll raise the same amount in the first quarter as she would in later quarters? Its the early months of 2007; most people aren't paying attention to 2008 races. Most people won't pay attention to those races until at least spring or summer of 2008. And that's when most of the money will be raised. That's when most of the money on any campaign is raised. Please, show me an example of a candidate for federal office who raised the same amount in the 2nd quarter of an election year as they did in the 1st quarter of a non-election year.

    I know you admit in your post (at least, its implied) that these are assumptions of yours. Yet you have no problem in your headline saying that she's fallen short.

    12:03 PM, April 06, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    A) Dole said she needed to "raise" $1 million per month - not "average" $1 million per month. Her terminology - not mine.

    B) I suppose you have never ever worked on any political campaign ever. Because, if you had, you'd know that the second the calendar hits January 1st, elected officials hit up previous donors for the new year. For you to not know this is just ignorant. Now, some previous donors might not give right away, which is specifically why I say in the post to wait and see Q2 figures. Most regular people aren't following the race yet, but early donors and frequent donors are not "regular people." To suggest or imply that Dole isn't going to go to the trouble of pestering previous donors in Q1 is just idiotic.

    C) A big bankroll is a sign of strength. It has the potential of scaring off potential challengers. So one would think Dole would scrape and claw in Q1 for every possible dollar, given her relative poll weakness, to demonstrate cash strength and scare off challengers. Which goes back to point B - that she would be calling every previous big donor and bringing in as much of the low-hanging fruit as possible. We'll have a better idea of her capability in Q2, but if $1.7 million is the bulk of her low-hanging fruit, she's in trouble. If her Q2 number is any lower than $1.7 million, she's in pretty rough shape.

    Based on this quarter's $1.7 million take, her Q2 take had better be in the $2.5-3.0 million range to be even slightly impressive.

    12:32 PM, April 06, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    1) But you're still assuming what she meant, and your assumption is most likely wrong. Again, show me a federal race where a candidate raised as much in the 2nd quarter of the election year as they did in the 1st quarter of a non-election year. Its absurd.

    2) Its ignorant to assume that all campaigns work the same way. Yes, they reach out to donors, but they don't max out in the first quarter. You're making another assumption here, and its unfounded.

    3) Apparently, Dole was doing a good job of scaring off potential challengers even before the end of the first quarter. But I think any incumbent with close to $2 million cash on hand is in good shape. Dole said that she needed $20 million, but that's assuming she's in a competitive race. If she's not, then she'll barely need more than what she has. Its also likely that, as a former chair of the NRSC, she's advising donors to hold off or donate to other campaigns who need it more until its clear that she'll be in a tough race. So far, there's no indication of that.

    4) I doubt the Dole campaign cares even slightly about what impresses you.

    There's nothing but empty assumptions with which to support your assertion that she "fell short" of her fundraising goal.

    12:40 PM, April 06, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    va blogger - you keep saying that I'm "assuming what Dole meant" because you don't like the conclusions that I draw. But I'm not "assuming what Dole meant" - I'm "going by what Dole said". I cite Dole's actual statements! So knock off the "unfounded assumptions" bunk. You're just pulling stuff out of thin air because you don't like my conclusions.

    I seem to remember, va blogger, when I noted that the NRSC was panhandling to the RNC, you kept saying there was nothing wrong with that because "more money is a good thing."

    Well, if donors really wanted to protect the vulnerable Dole (i.e. since she's weak in polls, make her appear strong in money), wouldn't they have "maxed out" and given more money?

    The only assumption I'm making is that Dole-supporters would actually want to, well, support Dole.

    But your right - it is ignorant to assume that all campaigns work the same way - I'm sure there are some that want to raise as little money as possible - you're exactly right.

    12:51 PM, April 06, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    I'm not pulling anything out of thin air. You are assuming that Dole intended to raise as much money in January 2007 as she will in September 2008. I want you to find ANY candidate for federal office who has followed the same fundraising strategy.

    And my argument with the NRSC/RNC was that the NRSC was not strapped for cash, as you baselessly concluded, but rather was just looking for more sources of income. I think if the donors thought that Dole needed more money to appear strong, they would have given her more. As it stands, her current amount seems to be doing just fine.

    But don't take my word for it. Here's the words of Jennifer Duffy from the Cook Report:

    "Raising $1.7 million is an impressive number for someone who acquired — fairly or not — a reputation for not being a strong fund raiser. It will put to rest rumors, largely started by Democrats, that she will retire.”

    ...

    Duffy says Dole’s early fund raising success will likely make it harder for the Democrats to find a candidate to run against Dole in 2008.

    Duffy, who has much more credibility on the subject than you and a proven record of being objective rather than a partisan cheerleader, not only reaches a different conclusion that you have, but she calls Dole's numbers "a success" and "impressive". She probably reached that conclusion by having a superior knowledge about campaigning than you do. That knowledge probably makes the assumption that Dole will raise more money--if neccesary--deeper in the cycle, instead of absurdly trying to raise the same amount of money in early months as she does in later months.

    1:20 PM, April 06, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Even liberal partisans like the Daily Kos disagree with your assessment. Kos characterized Dole's fundraising number as her campaign "kicking into high gear".

    1:24 PM, April 06, 2007  
    Blogger Phoenix Woman said...

    Heh. Considering the crummy job she did as RNSC Chair, her anemic Q1 fundraising isn't that surprising. I suspect that some past supporters may have figured that since the Democrats are going to keep the Senate next year anyway, why not let Liddy die on the vine and replace her with someone they like better -- even a Democrat? Remember, that's exactly the rationale the GOP used in 1988 when it backed the Democrat Lieberman over Lowell Weicker, who it wanted to punish for backing Nixon's impeachment fourteen years earlier. (Yes, they hold grudges that long. Look at their constant obsession with Bill Clinton.)

    As for Jennifer Duffy, I remember her most vividly as touting the strengths of John McCain over Rudy Giuliani, especially when it came to fundraising. Bzzzzzzt!

    1:34 PM, April 06, 2007  
    Blogger Phoenix Woman said...

    And nice of you to ignore the rest of what Kos said about Liddy Dole, VA:

    "This would've been an easier seat to take as an open seat, but regardless, Dole will be one of the top targeted races this cycle."

    Sorry, dear, but no matter how you'd like to spin it, Markos isn't exactly cowering before the juggernaut that is Liddy Dole.

    1:37 PM, April 06, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Are you actually arguing that a liberal hack with a blog is more credible than a senior correspondent for the Cook Political Report? Hell, even other liberal hacks like Daily Kos disagree with his absurd conclusion.

    You calling $1.7 million dollars "anemic" doesn't make it so. Everyone, from the Daily Kos to the Cook Political Report to the Washington Post says that Dole did well in first quarter fundraising. Only S2G disagrees, and his only basis for disagreement is a misguided assumption.

    1:41 PM, April 06, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    I'm not arguing that Dole is a juggernaught, or that against a credible challenger the race wouldn't be competitive. I'm only arguing that raising $1.7 million dollars in the first quarter of a non-election year is an impressive amount, and everybody with a lick of common sense agrees.

    1:43 PM, April 06, 2007  
    Blogger Blue South said...

    There are some very amusing things here. Why would they feel the need to say, "we are scaring away challengers" when she is "safe and will be easily reelected".

    They know their poll results are shit, and they know the only way to protect her seat is cash.

    As for past numbers, Santorum (who outspent Casey by 10 million dollars and got trounced) raised:
    first quarter 2005 almost 2 million
    second quarter 2005 about 3.7 million
    third quarter 2005 about 1.7 million
    fourth quarter 2005 about 2.5 million
    first quarter 2006 about 3 million
    second quarter 2006 about 2.6 million
    third quarter 2006 about 3.4 million

    The simple fact is that fundraising is fairly constant. Obviously there are going to be some variation, but people want cash in as soon as they can get it.

    1:43 PM, April 06, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    So the 1st quarter of '05 was Santorum's second-worst fundraising quarter? Interesting statistic.

    1:45 PM, April 06, 2007  
    Blogger Phoenix Woman said...

    As long as we're mentioning Kos, here's what he thought of Liddy Dole's performance as NRSC Chair: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/12/23/122856/33

    1:52 PM, April 06, 2007  
    Blogger Blue South said...

    and yet he never even doubled it any quarter. To raise her goal of 18 million before October of 08 she will need to almost double her fundraising this quarter in EVERY OTHER QUARTER.

    1:53 PM, April 06, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    PW- That just proves my point even more. Kos is obviously not a fan, and is in fact a critic of her, yet even he said his fundraising was indicative of a "high gear" operation. Only the people on here, following S2G's misguided assumptions, are denying that it was a strong quarter for her.

    BS- Everybody agrees that the amount she's raised is impressive enough to scare off potential challengers. Fact is, she was doing a pretty good job of that even before she raised an "impressive" amount of funds. If she attracted a challenger and the race turned competitive, I'm sure she would aim a lot higher in future quarters to meet her goal. But a goal of $20 million is unneccesary if she doesn't even have an opponent.

    2:59 PM, April 06, 2007  
    Blogger Blue South said...

    If by everyone you mean not quite then sure.

    Just last week you were saying that no recruitment effort could be deemed a failure, yet here you are saying she has already scared off all potential challengers. Its highly amusing. Once you decide to stop your partisan rhetoric......

    3:16 PM, April 06, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    By "everyone", I mean except the three of you posting on this blog. Certainly anybody credible believes it.

    And I didn't say she scared off "all" potential challengers; that'd be a stupid thing to say.

    3:31 PM, April 06, 2007  

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