The presidential campaigns have a deadline approaching for announcing their second-quarter fundraising numbers, and they have already begun jockeying to manage expectations. Hillary Clinton surprised pundits by announcing a firm number early — $27 million — and then telling everyone they could that they expected Barack Obama to do better than that. Now Mitt Romney’s campaign has started to get the word out that fundraising efforts had dropped off from their impressive Q1 totals:
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who led Republican candidates in money raised during the first three months of the presidential race with $21 million, told top fundraisers yesterday that his campaign will bring in less during the second quarter and that he continues to lend money from his personal fortune to ensure that more voters hear his message.
“This tells only part of the story given this cycle’s unprecedented nature, and the competing needs of less well-known candidates, such as Governor Romney, for both fundraising dollars and political exposure,” said the memo to fundraisers from senior campaign adviser Alex Castellanos and top lawyers Benjamin Ginsberg and Katie Biber Chen.
“Our total will reflect the campaign’s strategic decision to include more political travel days in this quarter than in the first,” they explained, noting that Romney spent a total of 20 days in the early primary states of New Hampshire and Iowa between April and June, double the time he spent there in the first three months of 2007.
This doesn’t bode well for the Romney campaign. He made a seven-figure loan to the campaign last week to keep up with the other candidates, which sounds as though fundraising has seriously flagged in this quarter. Romney has done well in Iowa and New Hampshire in gaining some momentum, but a significant drop in fundraising may signal to voters that Romney has peaked already.
The other GOP candidates, meanwhile, appear poised to show more consistent performance, if not breakout numbers. According to the Post, Giuliani has turned in a strong Q2. In Q1, he raised $17 million, but most of that was in the final two months. With three months of steady fundraising, Giuliani could top that number. John McCain, despite having a tough Q2 with immigration, still expects to get close to or beat his previous $13 million. Romney can run well under his $23 million and still beat them, but the perception will not be that of victory.
And Republicans should feel concerned about the disparity between their candidates’ fundraising and that of the Democrats. Hillary and Obama will have somewhere between $55-60 million just between them, and that could outdo all three GOP frontrunners combined. In terms of primary efforts, the money difference won’t create problems for Republicans, since primaries are mostly closed systems. However, if that fundraising disparity continues into the general election, the GOP may be in serious trouble regardless of the candidates involved.
Romney’s strength in the campaign thus far has been his organizational skills, which his national poll numbers have not reflected. Many expected that his support would begin to reflect the organization. If his numbers fall too low, many might think that the reverse has happened.