Winning candidates seeing more campaign money

January 10, 2008 6:37:44 PM PST
Wins are pumping money into candidates' campaign funds. Yet money alone is not translating into victories. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, the top fundraisers of all, have split decisions - he won the Iowa caucuses and she won New Hampshire. And Mitt Romney, the multimillionaire who has already tapped at least $17 million of his wealth toward his campaign, is still looking for his big victory.

The Democratic fundraising picture so far is incomplete because the candidates don't have to file their end-of-year finance reports until Jan. 31, but campaigns have been releasing some numbers.

Clinton raised more than $24 million for the primary campaign in the last three months of 2007, according to her finance chairman, Terry McAuliffe. The campaign was expected to have ended the year with well more than $20 million cash on hand. In less than 24 hours since her New Hampshire victory, McAuliffe said the campaign had raised more than $1 million online.

Obama raised $22.5 million for the primary between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, campaign manager David Plouffe said in a campaign status report distributed Wednesday. The campaign reported raising $8 million since the beginning of the year.

John Edwards, the second-place finisher in Iowa and third-place finisher in New Hampshire, is expected to report $4 million to $5 million raised in the final quarter of 2007. The campaign has brought in less than $2 million since the Iowa caucuses.

But Edwards is also entitled to $8.8 million in matching public funds, a move that restricts his spending but bolsters his campaign treasury. The money is not available until March, but the campaign has already started borrowing, using the match as collateral.

Among Republicans, the picture is more varied and less clear.

Romney has said he has pumped more of his own fortune into the campaign but said those who are curious about how much will have to wait until the year end reports become public. On Wednesday, he raised $5 million, but only $1.5 million was for the primary election. That means many of Romney's donors have already contributed the maximum to his primary campaign. If he loses his race for the Republican nomination, he will have to return the $3.5 million he raised in general election funds.

McCain, whose fundraising famously tanked last summer, raised more in the last quarter of 2007 than the $5.7 million he raised in the previous quarter, but his campaign won't specify the amount.

He raised at least $1 million in the first week of January and his fundraising got a boost from his New Hampshire victory. McCain also has qualified for public matching funds, but could forgo it if he puts a string of victories together that unleashes a surge of donations.

"We have plenty of money to prosecute an entire primary campaign through conclusion, through victory," campaign manager Rick Davis told reporters on McCain's campaign plane on Wednesday. He said enough money was in the bank for Michigan and South Carolina. By Thursday morning, he told The Associated Press that the campaign had raised enough since New Hampshire to be able to mount a television campaign in pricey Florida - and now was looking to bank cash for Feb. 5.

The campaign has succeeded in holding down costs. For example, most of the consultants guiding the campaign are volunteering their time instead of being paid six-figure salaries that are the norm.

Mike Huckabee, the come-from-behind winner in Iowa, raised between $7 million and $8 million in the last three months of the year, according to campaign chairman Ed Rollins. He was expected to report nearly $2 million cash on hand at the end of the year.

Huckabee aides won't discuss current fundraising - he held a fundraiser in Myrtle Beach Thursday that was closed to the media.

Rudy Giuliani's campaign won't discuss any of his fundraising, but he is spending heavily in Florida, the state he has chosen to be his springboard into the presidential contest. He finished sixth in Iowa, fourth in New Hampshire. Giuliani is spending more than $600,000 on one ad running through Jan. 15 in Florida and launched another one that will air nationally on Fox News Channel and in Florida.

The rush for money is important for Republicans competing in Michigan and Florida, two expensive media states. What's more, all the candidates are looking to Feb. 5 as well, when 24 states are in play including New York, New Jersey, California and Illinois. By then, even the wealthiest candidates will have to pick their spots, spending strategically instead of relying on saturation television commercials.

"Just from a messaging standpoint, if you have four weeks and $40 million that's still not a lot of time and not a lot of money to get a sustained long-term message in all the places you have to cover," said Evan Tracey, who tracks political advertising as chief operating officer for TNS Media Intelligence/Campaign Media Analysis Group. "Time works against candidates as much as money does."

Judging by the outcomes so far, money and time are but a part of it.