Can $3 make an impact on determining the future President of the United States? According to Mitt Romney, it can!
“Donate $3 today to be automatically entered to be Mitt’s special guest for Election Night on Super Tuesday,” reads an email appeal from the Romney campaign to supporters. A video was also put on the web petitioning donors to give $20 to battle the “Obama Attack Machine.” With the power of the Super PAC’s and Romney’s own personal bank account rivaling that of a small nation, why would these miniscule gifts tip the scales in Romney’s favor?
Reporters Matea Gold and Melanie Mason from the Chicago Tribune wrote that, “Although he has outstripped his Republican rivals in fundraising, he also is burning through cash. Romney spent money nearly three times faster than he raised it in January, leaving him with $7.7 million. Since then, his campaign has shelled out at least $2.7 million for television advertising alone, according to sources familiar with the ad buys.”
Furthermore, Romney’s donor numbers are vastly different than his political rivals. Just 9 percent of the nearly $63 million Romney raised through the end of January came from supporters who gave $200 or less. The Campaign Finance Institute found that two-thirds of the money he has raised so far has come from donors who have given $2,500. However, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, as well as President Barack Obama, have had about half of their funding come in from small donors.
Online political fundraising is definitely proving to be the favored choice for candidates to reach the masses. “Romney’s campaign is trying to reverse that imbalance by soliciting single-digit donations via the Web. That’s a tactic regularly used by the Obama campaign to gather new email addresses for future fundraising,” reports Gold and Mason.
So which is more important: investing more time into smaller donations to gain voter support or investing less time into major donors to garner more money? With democracy, I would have to say it’s both.
Oh, to be able to pull out the old checkbook and give one million dollars to any organization of my choice. That’s what about two dozen extremely wealthy donors have recently done to promote the presidential candidate of their choice through one of the new political action committees.
According to an Associated Press review of financial reports filed by the various campaigns, it was revealed that more than half of the $60 million generated by the PACs was donated by only 24 very wealthy supporters. “The super-sized checks amount to $33 million, and in some cases, the contributions of $1 million or more represent most of the money that several super PACs have collected” states the AP.
“Freed by the Citizens United case and other rulings that allowed unlimited donations with minimal disclosure, the mega-donors are pumping unprecedented amounts of cash to favored candidates. The lavish gifts are stoking negative campaign ad wars and making mega-donors essential to the tactics and operations of the super PACs,” explains the report.
So who are these big wigs that are supplying these immense amounts of funding? According to the Associated Press, the top five donors are as follows: Las Vegas casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his family have given $11 million to Winning Our Future, the group supporting former House Speaker Gingrich. Texas billionaire Harold Simmons so far has donated $12 million — both personally and through his firm, Contran — to American Crossroads, the Republican-leaning super PAC co-founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove.
The co-founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook, Peter Thiel, has given $2.6 million to Endorse Liberty, the group supporting Texas Rep. Paul. The chief executive at DreamWorks Animation, Jeffrey Katzenberg, has given $2 million to the group supporting Obama’s re-election, Priorities USA Action, which accounts for nearly half the group’s $4.5 million total. To round out the top five, hotel magnates and brothers Bill and Richard Marriott have given $1.5 million to Restore Our Future, the group supporting former Massachusetts Gov. Romney.
These are numbers that would make any nonprofit CEO’s head spin and I can’t help but wonder what effect this new system of political fundraising is going to have on the election. On one hand, you need money to reach the masses on the election trail. On the other hand, are these PACs garnering more support or alienating the average voter? Finally, is it better to have a large group of individual supporters via social media with a huge Facebook following, or just one big conglomerate donor? I guess we’ll find out soon enough come November.
From government intervention to taxation to health care, we all know that there is a chasm between the views and ideals of Republicans and Democrats. Apparently there are different takes on political fundraising, too.
“The Democrats and Republicans really have opposite problems right now,” said Anthony Corrado, a professor of government at Colby College in an article in thedailybeast.com. “The president has a head start and will out-raise whoever the Republican nominee is, but it’s going to be a financially competitive race because on the other side of the ledger, the super PACS will step in to help erase Obama’s advantage.”
Corrado has strong statistics to support his opinion; Obama has raised about $30 million more than his four Republican competitors combined. However, the Republicans are far in the lead concerning PAC giving with such numbers like Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, which raised $51 million last year and Restore Our Future, the largest of the independent groups supporting Romney which collected more than $30 million last year. “By comparison, supporters gave Priorities USA Action, the main super PAC backing Obama, just over $4 million,” states The Daily Beast reporter Laura Colarusso.
Colarusso explains that the Democrats aren’t tapping into the PAC trend because “in 2008, Obama’s record haul was made possible by the fact that he broke a campaign pledge and opted out of the public financing system. He was the first candidate ever to take that step, and he justified it with the prospect of hostile outside spending. But Democrats haven’t embraced that lesson and have instead rallied against the Citizens United decision that effectively elevated money into a new form of protected political speech. Many supporters of the party have been reluctant so far to contribute to the super PACs the decision effectively empowered.”
On the flip side, Republicans are thriving on this new policy for political fundraising because of anti-Obama sentiment and the fact that individuals can give to independent groups without a donation ceiling. However, many GOP nominees’ numbers from individual supporters are suffering because their party’s funds are divided between candidates while many Democrats widely continue to support President Obama.
“The president still has the advantage,” says Corrado. “The real question is going to be whether conservative small donors will rally behind the eventual nominee to provide the money his campaign will need in a contest against Obama or if he’ll have to rely on the super PACs.”
How many dollars does it take to win the Oval Office? That seems to be the billion dollar question of the hour. In a capitalist society, supporters plus donations can’t be entered into a well formulated calculation to determine the outcome of an election. However, if money makes the world go round, than campaign season must have the earth ready to spin off of its axis.
It’s clear that running for president must be one of the most expensive investments anyone could make. Time, money, energy and emotional stamina are all high costs for the candidates to imbue into any campaign to have even the slightest chance for victory. Mitt Romney is certainly paying his dues as his commitment to being a contender in the 2012 presidential is paying off as he leads the pack of GOP hopefuls.
Romney is currently at the top of the list of the six Republican presidential candidates and boasts of raising over $56 million dollars for his campaign, according to the New York Times ($24 million came in during the last three months of 2011). GooglePost.com states that, “Romney drew in $24 million in the fourth quarter of 2011 alone and is going into the new year with more than $19 million cash on hand. Romney’s fundraising figures dwarfs the other Republican presidential candidates in comparison… Rivals Texas Rep. Ron Paul collected $13 million in the fourth quarter while former House speaker Newt Gingrich raised $9 million.”
So with an unrivaled amount of fundraising numbers from other GOP contenders, it seems like Romney’s biggest obstacle to the White House would be the incumbent who has currently raised approximately $88 million according to opensecrets.com.
How does Romney’s fundraising savvy compete with recent history candidates? “Romney’s fourth quarter total is competitive with what then-Sens. Hillary Clinton ($27 million) and Barack Obama ($23.5 million) brought in over the final three months of 2007 and dwarfs the amount that eventual GOP nominee John McCain raised during that period ($10 million). Romney also raised more in the final quarter of 2011 than then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush did in the final three months of 1999 ($11 million),” explains a report in The Washington Post.
While Barrack Obama still may lead the pack in political fundraising, it seems that Romney is up to the challenge for competing for funds. Both are mastering the skills it takes to garner online support and both are using social media in the political realm like never before.
I’ve read countless articles proclaiming that the Latino voters, swing states, Baby Boomers and many other factions will be the group for the 2012 presidential candidates to win over in order to control the Oval Office. Now, the newest members of society to be targeted are the middle class. Is there any truth to this latest claim?
On ABCNews.go.com, Associated Press reporter Erica Werner explains the important role that the middle class will play in the upcoming election come November 2012. “Highlighted by the Occupy movement and fanned by record profits on Wall Street at a time of stubborn unemployment, economic inequality is now taking center stage in the 2012 presidential campaign, emphasized by Obama and offering opportunities and risks for him and his GOP opponents as both sides battle for the allegiance of the angst-ridden electorate.”
Just for argument’s sake I looked up on Wikipedia who makes up the middle class and how many people are included in this broad, loosely used term. There are several models and definitions being used which can include anywhere between 25% to 66% of American households. Generically speaking, it’s anyone who makes an individual income equal to or greater than the national median of $32,000 or a $46,000 income for a household. On the high side it includes incomes varying from the low six figures. Clear as mud, right?
So, now that we know who is in the middle class (um, sort of), why is this group of voters so important for the candidates to earn their support, both financially and in the voting booth? Werner explains that, “Obama is viewed as more likely to help the middle class than is the GOP, so he can capitalize on this by playing on concerns about inequality and contrasting his positions and the GOP’s on issues like tax cuts for the wealthy,’ John Sides, political science professor at George Washington University, said by email. ‘However,’ Sides added, ‘it’s an open question whether that strategy would enable him to overcome a weak economy and win.’”
With unemployment reaching 8%, social security dwindling and the weakening of the value of the dollar, the middle class are taking the brunt of the economic downturn. With the broadening gap between the rich and the poor, the middle class seems to be in the crossfire of a precarious future. Whether the Democrats or Republicans can restore confidence to this cautious group will very likely have a major impact on who the future leader of this country will be.
It seems like when reviewing the third quarter fundraising dollars for the Republican party, who gave is just as important as how much was given.
Rick Perry is in the lead bringing in $17 million this quarter. $9.7 million came from his donors in Texas and 4% came from small donors who gave less than $200 (a much smaller percent than his other candidates). Governor Perry is hot with the oil & gas industry, agriculture, doctors and lawyers.
T.W. Farnam shared this insight about Perry written in the Washington Post: “Perry’s total puts him at the top of the Republican field in fundraising, but his reliance on maxed-out donors who are legally prohibited from contributing more means it will require a lot of work to continue raising money in light of the candidate’s recent collapse in the polls.”
Farman also states that, “Perry’s biggest source of cash was the employees of Ryan, a Texas tax and accounting firm run by G. Brint Ryan, a supporter of the governor. The company’s employees gave $158,000 to Perry’s campaign.”
Mitt Romney follows Perry with third quarter totals amounting to $14 million. Mitt’s supporters come from a broader base then Perry’s and supporters include finance, Hollywood, high technology, and media folks.
Don’t read too much into the fact that Perry’s numbers are higher than Romney’s for Q3. Remember that Perry started later than Romney so Perry has been going after his low-hanging local (Texas) gifts. Romney swept up his low-hanging donations much earlier this year.
In third place is Ron Paul who raised $3.8 million primarily from supporters who gave less than $200 each.
Herman Cain is gaining a surprising amount of support and raised $2.8 million this quarter, including a $175,000 personal loan. As his public presence and opinion increases, I’m sure his bank account will, too.
Even with all these impressive numbers, President Obama has raised $70 million for his campaign and the Democratic Party. Although our economy may be in shambles, the guy certainly knows how to raise a buck or two.
To learn more about how Fundly can benefit your political fundraising efforts online, please contact Fundly today.