Michael Booth’s Raising money an “unholy” quest in Colorado Senate races
in todays DenverPost gets it just about right. It should be required reading for every candidate, every possible candidate and everyone who posts here on CoPols about fundraising and campaign funding.
Fundraising is painful hard work. It’s like telemarketing and direct sales with a largely intangible product that is uncomfortable for most people to pitch aggressively – themselves. And while successful candidates must get good at it, it is unlikely it is ever either the motivation or the talent of any candidate which causes a candidate to run. I suspect most are new to it, and most are not very comfortable doing t.
But all the successful candidates realize the necessity and get good at it, or at least good enough.
In the current Colorado election cycle we have several races that are good examples of the variety of approaches, also known as what to do and what not to do. Of course, the voters ultimately decide and conventional wisdom can be thrown over by other events. Good candidates sometimes break through despite weak fundraising – but mostly not. Sometimes a candidate can run and win against demographics and other factors, but mostly not.
We’ll find out this summer if HIckenlooper with his later start can catch up to McInnis.
We’ll know in August if:
– Wiens’s choice to self finance was a good one.
– Bennet’s ability to outspend Romanoff matters in the primary.
– independent expenditures on Buck’s behalf will be as effective as Norton’s ability to spend what she raises.
– what affect Maes’s inability or unwillingness to raise anywhere near as much as McInnis will have.
And then in November we’ll know if:
– Flerlage’s inability or unwillingness to raise 7 figures really matters in CD6
– what size budget will be required to carry CD4
– and so on.
It has been argued that I and others have made the claim that the candidate who has the most funding, wins . I never said that, and I doubt anyone who pays attention to elections has. It is sometimes true that the candidate with the biggest budget wins- Polis 08, Bloomberg 09, Obama 08.
And I am sure it also sometimes true that a good candidate with much less to budget than his opposition nevertheless goes on to win. Just as I am sure that good candidates have sometimes won despite the relevant demographics and other factors.
But most of the time, candidates need enough budget to be competitive.
The DenPo article shows that while Colorado is still generally lower budget for Senate races than other states, recent experience suggests $12-15-million is “competitive.” It’s not about having the most it’s about having enough. What we don’t have recent data for is the budget for a competitive US Senate primary. We’re in uncharted waters here.
Buck, Norton, Wiens – three different approaches so far and all three will be on the ballot, if they want it.
Buck and Norton have done nothing to suggest they are anything less than motivated and committed. However Wiens gives the impression that he is willing but not that motivated. He’s raised very little money, and even his self contribution is mostly in the form of a loan.
By all appearances Buck wants it- but most of his resources so for have come from independent sources. His strongest fundraising quarter to date in 1Q should change things. Norton deciding to withdraw from the state assembly and only petition is probably going to make getting on the ballot more expensive for her than it will be for Buck who just needs to show up next month to make ballot.
In the D Senate primary, so far we have two candidates with gigantically different fundraising results. The Post article says “to date Democratic candidates have raised at least $6.8 million”. Which is sort of like saying when I’m in a room with Bill Gates, our average net worth is $20 billion.
The Post article gives the impression that Romanoff has been focused on the grind of fundraising, though it’s not clear if that’s a change from last year or a continuation. I suspect the addition of Romjue, Trippi, Cadell, Lake, etc meant a meaningfully more fundraising focused 1Q. We will know this week what the number is, though it may or may not tell us weather the focus changed. A small number (less than $500k) may mean AR wasn’t putting in the time. Or it may mean that he put in the time but generated small donors or too few. A big number (more than $1mm) may mean AR was more focused on fundraising. Or it may mean he was more successful after caucus and the earliest assemblies.
I predicted here on CoPols that Romanoff’s 1Q would be $1.2mm. While at least one Romanoff supporter claimed that I was just trying to set an unnecessarily high bar, to “play an expectation game”, or something, I did the math differently.
Romjue, Caddell, Lake, Trippi were announced in Dec and Jan. So if they have had positive impact on fundraising focus and/or success it wasn’t in the 4Q. If they haven’t had positive impact on fundraising- why are they still on the payroll?
Then 11,500 Democratic caucus goers said they prefer Romanoff. If they each donated just $100, that’s $1.1-million.
So if anyone is playing an expectation game, it’s the Romanoff supporters who suggest that another $300k or $400k quarter is a great demonstration and strong enough. Maybe.
We don’t have great data about how much is enough to run a competitive primary. But here’s the thing – the primary ends in mid-August (approx 16 weeks from now) just 6 weeks before the general election ballots are in kitchens around Colorado. Is 6 weeks enough time to run a general election campaign this year in Colorado? It feels a little thin.
Because I much prefer the D candidate whichever one it is, I prefer the D candidate be able to start campaigning for the general not later than July. June even.
If Romanoff doesn’t put up $1.1million + for 1Q, then it means Trippi, Romjue, Lake, Caddell didn’t have positive impact on the campaign’s fundraising and it raises the question whether they can going forward. And it means that the 11,500 caucus goers who “prefer” Romanoff, may be willing to show up and caucus and assemble for him, but they wouldn’t write a $100 check. Not even once.