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Campaign Money Chase: Grading the 2008 Field

Two weeks ago we got the big picture on presidential fundraising, as the 2008 candidates released overall numbers for how much their campaigns took in during the first quarter. Today we get the details.

All of the presidential candidates must file detailed first-quarter financial reports with the Federal Election Commission by midnight, and we'll spend the next few days combing through them to inform Fix readers who did the best and worst.

Here's our first take.

First-Quarter Highlights

* Hillary's Burn Rate: Say what you will about the performance of the vaunted Clinton money machine in the first quarter, but it would be hard to question the efficiency of the cash collection. In the first three months of the year, Sen. Clinton's campaign raised $26 million -- $19 million for the primary, $7 million for the general -- and spent just $5 million total. That low burn rate, combined with a $10 million transfer from her Senate campaign account, left Clinton with a whopping $24 million to spend on the primary. TV station managers everywhere are smiling.

* Romney's Utah Haul: Neutral observers always suspected that former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) would effectively tap his strong connections to the Mormon world for financial gain. But who knew he could do it so well? Romney raised $2.7 million from the Beehive State (where roughly six-in-ten residents are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) and boasted 1,959 Utah donors who contributed $200 or more. The only state where the governor collected more cash was California where he raised $3.45 million. California was also Sen. John McCain's biggest donor state ($1.3 million raised) while New York was tops for former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani ($3 million raised).

* Obama's Primary Cash: An unknown on the national scene just four years ago, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) raised more money for the primary race than anyone else in a field populated with national figures. Obama's $24.8 million take for the primary is an absolutely stunning achievement that was accomplished by marrying his appeal to both small-dollar donors on the Internet and affluent individuals. Is there a second act for Obama? His 100,000 donors would suggest so.

* Giuliani's Final Five Days: Money pours into presidential campaigns in the days leading up to the deadline of each quarter. But Giuliani was the master of last-minute money. On March 27 he brought in $471,000 and then another $624,000 on the 28th. The final three days of the period brought Giuliani $653,000, $800,000 and then $1.2 million, respectively. (All of these figures are thanks to the guys atPolitical Moneyline -- a great campaign finance site.)

* National Media: That's the name of Romney's media consulting firm, which raked in $1.8 million over the first three months of the year -- by far the largest payout by Romney to a single entity in the period. Romney has been on television intermittently since February in Iowa and New Hampshire, and he has runs ads in Florida, Michigan and South Carolina. In several of those early states, Romney's numbers have been edging up -- movement that is due in large part to the ads crafted by National Media's Alex Castellanos. Will the early media buy -- an unorthodox strategy -- pay long-term dividends? If so, it may prove to be the smartest $2 million Romney has ever spent. If not, National Media may belong in the "lowlights" category.

The Lowlights

* John McCain's Cash on Hand: We knew Sen. John McCain's (Ariz.) report was bad news for his campaign. We didn't know it was this bad. While he was pilloried for raising just $12.5 million in the first quarter -- the lowest haul of any of the top three GOP candidates -- he also spent more than $8 million in the period, including roughly $1.5 million on staff salaries. That spending spree left McCain with just $5.2 million on hand and $1.8 million in debt. McCain has said the problems with his finance operation have been fixed. The second quarter could be a make-or-break proving ground of whether he is right.

* Huckabee's "Haul": If former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.) was running for the Senate in 2008, one might argue that he had a decent fundraising quarter. Unfortunately for Huckabee, he is running for president. His contributions and expenditures read like a candidate who hasn't grasped the difference between a statewide race and a national one. He brought in just $544,000 -- less than half of what comedian Al Franken raised in his run for the Democratic Senate nomination in Minnesota. And Huckabee's meager payroll (just four paid staff) suggests a candidate not ready for prime time.

* Biden's Consultant-Heavy Spending: Every campaign spends money on consultants and often rightly so. But Sen. Joe Biden's (D-Del.) report showed more than $230,000 disbursed to a variety of fundraising consultants, even as he raised just $2.1 million in the first three months of 2007. And how about the $200,000 Biden paid his pollster -- Celinda Lake -- on Feb. 27?

By Chris Cillizza  |  April 15, 2007; 7:55 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Posted by: David | May 5, 2007 3:58 PM | Report abuse

US President Tim Kalemkarian, US Senate Tim Kalemkarian, US House Tim Kalemkarian: best major candidate.

Posted by: anonymous | April 17, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Romney is just a big ol' giant turd, and the money is the fiber to keep everything running smoothly. He's slick, he's shallow, he's self-obsessed, and he is not our next president.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2007 1:46 AM | Report abuse

Romney's connections are pretty impressive, with fundraising networks all over the country. Whether he can translate it into votes (bang for burn?) is the question...

Posted by: JayPe | April 17, 2007 12:53 AM | Report abuse

I think Hillary spent big on her Senate re-election to improve her numbers (particularly in the conservative upstate) to show she could "win over" conservatives to her side.

Posted by: JayPe | April 17, 2007 12:51 AM | Report abuse

Why did Hillary spend 26million on her Senatorial campaign if not to get a headstart on her Presidential campaign? Must have saved her a bundle in this first quarter. And for the person who coos ecstatically over the name Hillary does Billary do it for you also? Ugh!

Posted by: tulip2 | April 16, 2007 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Liberal Group Sues, Boycotts Pollster Over 2006 Election Work

The left-leaning election organization Velvet Revolution says it is organizing a boycott of polling firm Zogby International over a lawsuit the group says it filed against Zogby in January.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2007 3:16 PM | Report abuse

You did not mention John Edwards in your overview. You, and those of us who want to make sure our next President is a Democrat, may have overlooked a very crucial data in all this. JOHN EDWARDS RAISED MORE MONEY IN THE SOUTH THAN ANY OF THE OTHER CANDIDATES. If we want to unite our country, and stop all this petty, destructive divisiveness, we would do well to notice that fact. If we nominate a candidate just because he or she has shown they are capable of raising a lot of money, but have not made clear where they stand on the issues, and is unable to have the support of the southern states, we might just get another Republican. Are we really willing to take that chance? One would hope that we have learned our lesson by now. And not be dazzled by politicians because they are capable of raising obscene amounts of money. It's about character, ideas, courage, and a deep desire to serve our troubled country. That is what we should be paying close attention to, don't you think?

Posted by: rebelfriend | April 16, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

You know, the way this FEC stuff is reported these days, with terms like "burn rate" and quarterly results, etc, it ought to be commoditized and traded on the CFTC. Nothing quaint about politics any more--it ain't local, it's fiscal baby.

New on EWM: Why we should have been talking about Imus years ago. Heard the name, Kylie Minogue? I can't repeat what they said about her here--it's off-the-charts indecent and I'm not making that up, read for yourself.

"Slime Us in the Morning"

Posted by: The Eyewitness Muse | April 16, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Being highly cynical, this pretty much nails it for me: "They have to support the war because Republican voters are the only people left who still believe in it," George C. Edwards III, professor of government at Texas A&M University, said of the Republican candidates. "If you were purely cynical and did your polling and figured out where you needed to be to win the Republican nomination, you'd have to be supportive."


Posted by: Judge C. Crater | April 16, 2007 12:57 PM | Report abuse

This is not the first time war proponents have noted that calls for decreased troop presence have aided in their strategy with the Iraqi government. In February, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice used the "restiveness in Washington" as part of her diplomatic strategy to increase pressure on the Iraqi government. Last month, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said he thought the "debate here on the Hill... [has] been helpful in bringing pressure to bear on the Maliki government."

Posted by: let's get real | April 16, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

USA Today leads with a survey showing 70 percent of Democrats have symptoms of trauma, including bed-wetting and stuttering.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2007 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I would like to see the media to cover Bill Richardson (Gov. of New Mexico)campign. He is the most experienced candidate with least amount of glitz.

Posted by: Abe Amir | April 16, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Good morning:

The community here was excited by Senator Obama's numbers, but they are taking nothing for granted. Constituent service is excellent. Meanwhile, Clinton's campaign left me three voice mails over the weekend, which I found quite annoying. Has anyone else been bothered by fundraising solicitors?


Cornelius Rafik

Posted by: Cornelius Rafik | April 16, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Good morning! It's a warm grey morning on campus, and Roger and I have decided to sleep in and miss our first period "Topics in Feminism." We were up late at the dance last night!

Posted by: William | April 16, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Ahh, an ingrown hair! Don't you hate that?

Posted by: kingofzouk | April 16, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Yes, but Hillary! Oh, I never tire of that melodious name. Hillary hillary hillary... that in itself is enough for me to vote for her, although she supposedly does have or will have a platform that I can explain to the rest of you at some point. Supposedly.... ah, never mind! Hillary hillary hillary hilll...

Posted by: lylepink | April 16, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

I think those of you who are a part of the washington establishment are seriously underestimating the political skills of Senator Obama. I think everyone thinks he will simply fizzle out. I think thats a big mistake.

I can guarantee you this: Hillary is certainly taking Obama seriously, even if you all aren't!

Posted by: fresh | April 16, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Drindl, have you ever noticed that the anonymous posts quoting from other blogs and Slate's "Today's Papers" column coincide with your posts? On mornings when you're here early, the news posts and copied blog posts show up early. Today, you made a post in your name, and then a few minutes later those posts started. Quite a coincidence, isn't it?

Posted by: Blarg | April 16, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

'Echoing Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) Iraq speech last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) defended the Iraq escalation this morning on Fox News and said that Congress' efforts to set a withdrawal timeline would do nothing to pressure the Iraqi government to reach a political reconciliation:

'The day you set timelines and deadlines, you undo the ability to reconcile, you empower our enemy and give them a road map to defeat us.'

But as the New York Times revealed, when McCain and Graham sat down for dinner with Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki during their recent visit to Baghdad, McCain conveniently used those very calls for withdrawal from Congress as a means to "motivate the Maliki government":

"So how do you motivate the Maliki government? Well, one of the ways is go sit down and have dinner with him like Lindsey Graham and I did last week," he said, alluding to his Republican colleague from South Carolina. He said that he and Mr. Graham had warned Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki that the patience of the American public was running out. Many members of the Bush administration and other lawmakers have met with Mr. Maliki to make the same point.

"We're telling you, there's been votes in both houses of Congress which portend, unless the American people see measurable success, that we're going to be out of here," Mr. McCain said, recalling the message he had delivered to the Iraqi leader. "No matter whether I happen to agree with it or not."

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

'Last week, the House passed the U.S. Troops Readiness, Veterans' Health and Iraq Accountability Act. The bill expands funding for veterans health care, requires the Iraqi government to meet certain benchmarks of progress, and calls for the strategic redeployment of all U.S. troops out of Iraq by 2008.

This morning, the Washington Post editorial board, who in 2003 called the Iraq War "an operation essential to American security," smeared the House plan as "an unconditional retreat."

Rep. Dave Obey (D-WI) responded on the House floor. "Let me submit to you the problem we have today is not that we didn't listen enough to people like the Washington Post," Obey said. "It's that we listened too much." Obey concluded, "And I would say one thing, those of us who voted against the war in the first place wouldn't have nearly as hard a time getting us out of the war if people like The Washington Post ... hadn't supported going into that stupid war in the first place."

Posted by: Fred Hiatt, media poodle | April 16, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Hillary is not going to get the chance to spend that general election money. Its obvious with her not-so 'leave everyone in the dust' fundraising totals, people are tired of her, and they want change in washington from the Bushes and the Clintons. Let me say this again, Hillary is NO BILL!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2007 10:23 AM | Report abuse

I think that one thing we can take away from this is that McCain is in SERIOUS trouble. CC gave out grades a few weeks ago and I can't remember what McCain got but it has to be a D- or F now.
He has the same cash on hand as Bill Richardson, and less then half of what Edwards has on hand.
Also Guiliani and Romeny have about the same cash on hand as Edwards too.

Posted by: Andy R | April 16, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

USA Today leads with a survey showing 70 percent of school children in a Baghdad neighborhood have symptoms of trauma, including bed-wetting and stuttering.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2007 10:19 AM | Report abuse

'Here are some views of Mitt Romney causing concern inside his campaign: His hair looks too perfect, he's not a tough war time leader, and he has earned a reputation as "Slick Dancing Mitt" or "Flip-Flop Mitt."

Romney and his advisers have identified those perceptions as threats to his bid for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, according to an exhaustive internal campaign document obtained by the Globe.

The 77-slide PowerPoint presentation offers a revealing look at Romney's pursuit of the White House, outlining a plan for branding himself, framing his competitors, and allaying voter concerns about his record, his Mormon faith, and his shifts on key issues like abortion.

Dated Dec. 11, the blueprint is wide-ranging and analyzes in detail the strengths and weaknesses of Romney and his two main Republican rivals, Senator John McCain of Arizona and Rudolph W. Giuliani, former mayor of New York. The plan, which top Romney strategist Alex Castellanos helped to draft, charts a course for Romney to emerge as the nominee, but acknowledges that the "electorate is not where it needs to be for us to succeed."

***The plan, for instance, indicates that Romney will define himself in part by focusing on and highlighting enemies and adversaries, such common political targets as "jihadism," the "Washington establishment," and taxes, but also Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, "European-style socialism," and, specifically, France. Even Massachusetts, where Romney has lived for almost 40 years, is listed as one of those "bogeymen," alongside liberalism and Hollywood values.***

You see how you cons gets gamed? These politicians don't beleive in anything they say. They just know your hot buttons, your 'boogeymen -- he even admits it!

All they have to do talk about France, for chrissake, or 'socialism' [so you won't ask the government for anything at all in returnn for the taxes you pay, you obedient little puppies] 'Hollywood' --al the stuff that's been crammed into your head for the last 30 years by talk radio and think tanks and TV and you've absorbed it all, like pavlovian dogs.

So well trained. All they have to do is a say a key word [and it really works like this] and you react automatically. You don't drool like Pavlov's dogs though, you frothe. Try it yourself... just say the word 'liberal' or 'hollywood' to yourself-- you get angry immediately, don't you?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Good article, Chris. However, I do think there is a second act for Obama. This past Saturday 20,000 people attended his rally in Atlanta and 2,000 at 25.00 in Tampa.
Many are already saying that think he will outraise clinton this next quarter.
What I find the most stunning is that Obama only was raising for 6 weeks and with building his organization from the ground up. Plus he did his raising alone and Hillary had help from Bill and an organization for many years.
When concidering this, it's more incredible. Basically, with all her advantages, Obama outraised her for primaries and almost tied her in overall fundraising.

Posted by: vwcat | April 16, 2007 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Alex Castellanos is a true slime bag -- known as 'the father of the modern attack ad', also known as vicious, irresponsible and incredibly sleazy. But that's Mitt for you.

You neglect to mention CC, that the reason Mitt did so well in California, is that Southern Californnia, which is by and large rabidly conservative, also has the second largest Mormon population in the country, after Utah.

Is there a link to the Castellanos ads? What are they about? Also -- where is Rudy's money coming from? My guess is global corporations, specifically defense contractors, cause that's who he's very deeply in bed with.

Posted by: drindl | April 16, 2007 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Obama had 19,192,000 Cash on hand.

Hillary has 30 million but 7 million is for the general.

Posted by: Andy R | April 16, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Good question, JD. (The second JD). If Hillary's "low burn rate" is supposed to be impressive, we need the analogous numbers for all the other candidates. Otherwise it looks like a cheap attempt to draw attention from the fact that Obama outraised her by 30% this period.

And a note to Mountain Man: Obama raised more money than Hillary. So mocking him for his weak fundraising is ludicrous.

Posted by: Blarg | April 16, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Chris, some of us have no context for comparing the payment from Biden to Lake.
Is this an unusual sum?
Is the timing umusual?
Were several months worth of previous accruals paid at once?
Do you suggest an impropriety?

While someone else has offered the comment with a sneer, it is true that when a candidate is running in the low single digits he might be expected to pay for more "P.R."

I think the relatively low total fundraising of the Republican candidates is telling, because if rank-and-file Republicans liked their field they would surely outraise Democrats. And it may also mean that the Democratic "field" is generally well liked by Democratic voters.

Posted by: Mark in Austin | April 16, 2007 8:47 AM | Report abuse

With the thrifty cash moves from Hillary, it looks like she's going to quietly wait until later in the year to give Obama a smack down. Hasn't name recognition always been Hillary's main asset in the primaries? She doesn't need to throw cash around to get her name out there.

Posted by: mpp | April 16, 2007 8:25 AM | Report abuse

uh oh, it's 'lylepink syndrome'...I have my own doppleganger:

agreed-- when i read the headline, i definitekly thought that Clinton had appropriated more than 25 million dollars for the primary fight. Turns out, Clinton isn't really the story-- Obama is. Honestly, I'm not one for accusing you of supporting a candidate overtly, but I am starting to wonder...

Posted by: JD | April 15, 2007 11:41 PM

Of course, it's completely impossible that two readers of this blog have the same initials... :-)

As for the topic at hand, why didn't CC post the cash-on-hand of Obama? Wouldnt' that make an apples to apples comparison easier? Or did he and I just missed it?

Posted by: JD (the real one, from Va) | April 16, 2007 8:12 AM | Report abuse


Dan Hynes was the pick of the Daley machine in the 2004 Senate Election. Mayor Daley stayed officially neutral, but his brother, John Daley, the Cook County Commissioner, officially endorsed Hynes, as did the Cook County Board President, John Stroger. My understanding is that Hynes in general got the most political and financial support from Daley associates, which makes sense--his father, Tom Hynes, goes WAY back in the Daley machine (and remains an important figure last I knew).

So, while anything is possible, I highly doubt further investigation will reveal much of a role for the Daley machine in electing Obama to the Senate.

Posted by: DTM | April 16, 2007 7:47 AM | Report abuse

If you were Joe Biden, you'd have to spend AT LEAST $200,000 on polling to figure out a way to sell people on making you President. And I doubt he got his money's worth.

Posted by: Fred | April 16, 2007 7:08 AM | Report abuse

We'll see, GRS. At this point the media is poring over his old parking tickets. The Rezko deal is the only one that has any legs at all. Obama just returned $50,000 in donations lobbyists tried to slip to him. He is genuinely trying to run a clean campaign, as best as I can see. It's not his job to run a background check on every single $2300 donor.

Posted by: Nissl | April 16, 2007 1:00 AM | Report abuse

The day to day money chase will be watched closely until people realize which one will probably be nominated and elected. The February voting will, IMO, just about rule out all but two or three on each side.

Posted by: lylepink | April 16, 2007 12:37 AM | Report abuse

At the end of the day its all about cash on hand and Hillary spanks Obama in that catagory. Sorry, but "Hope" wont pay the bills.

Posted by: mountain man | April 16, 2007 12:10 AM | Report abuse

agreed-- when i read the headline, i definitekly thought that Clinton had appropriated more than 25 million dollars for the primary fight. Turns out, Clinton isn't really the story-- Obama is. Honestly, I'm not one for accusing you of supporting a candidate overtly, but I am starting to wonder...

Posted by: JD | April 15, 2007 11:41 PM | Report abuse

C'mon Chris - how much is the CLinton campaign paying you and the Post? If you read the headline, it seems as if Hillary is the big story here. She's not. The fact that Obama OUTRAISED HER in Q1 is the only story.

Posted by: Bill M. | April 15, 2007 11:16 PM | Report abuse

So, Jeff, are you suggesting that Non-Mormons in Utah are just as excited as Mormons there? I don't think having a house there and 'saving' the Olympics really mean that much. After all, Romney may have devoted three years of his life to the Olympics, but Hatch has been a Senator (with the tricky living situation that entails) since 1977.

Maybe the real difference between Romney and Hatch is that nobody took Hatch seriously. They do take Romney seriously, and the idea of having a Mormon president is definitely appealing to many Mormons. I think, on the other hand, that if you were to go to Utah and take polls of Non-Mormons, you'd find that they really would rather not have a Mormon president--even if you were talking to Republicans.

Posted by: Phil | April 15, 2007 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Unable to link to Political Moneyline

Posted by: Smedley | April 15, 2007 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Of course Chris's comments about Utah Mormans being major donors to Mitt makes sense. Reid is a major aberration as a Democratic Mormon. Most are right wing Republicans becuase of the Party's major suck-up efforts on social issues, i.e. gay-bashing and subtler race-baiting. OF COURSE Nevada Mormons don't pour money into Reid's campaigns. Duh.

Posted by: Mike234 | April 15, 2007 10:59 PM | Report abuse

, . , , . .

Fair and Balanced!

Posted by: roo | April 15, 2007 10:50 PM | Report abuse

Utah donations to Romney are a natural . . . and not because he's Mormon (Mormon Utahn Sen Orrin Hatch didn't raise that much there in his 2000 Presidential bid)

Utah was in dire straights in 1999 and a laughingstock of the world with the IOC bribery scandals and news that the Olympics was going to be a huge money-loser. The leaders in the state pegged Romney to come in and help out. Romney donated the next 3 years of his life to turning around the SLC Olympics . . . moving his family there and working tirelessly.

Well, in short, the Olympics came off better than anyone expected. Utahn's are understandably grateful to Romney and returning the favor.

Also, both Ann and Mitt Romney went to college in Utah (BYU where all five of their sons have graduated), still own a home there, and one of their sons (Josh) still lives and works in Utah.

All that's implied in Chris's write-up is that in must be the Utah Mormons who donating to Romney because he's also Mormon. That doesn't make much sense because I don't know many Nevada Mormons (and there are TONS of them) helping to stuff Harry Reid's coffers.

Posted by: Jeff Fuller | April 15, 2007 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Not to allege anything, but an interesting read is the Tribune's (Chicago that is) multi-part story on Obama's money machine. Specifically how one of his early donors was recently indicted on kickback charges. Nothing unusual in Chicago, I assure you. But more than that, it may hint at how Obama rose so quickly. In Daley City, it's impossible to be someone without permission (no Obama didn't just charm the pants off of the machine like some starry-eyed hopefuls would have us believe), and I expect details will emerge in the following months.

Posted by: GRS | April 15, 2007 10:17 PM | Report abuse

nice rundown with all the stories on the money chase at

Posted by: William | April 15, 2007 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Simon, obviously Obama will need to roll out a detailed platform in the next several months. But there's still 8 months until the first primary. The earlier you come out, the more your policies can be attacked.

Obama isn't about "good cheer," just pragmatic, optimistic government. He understands the political game much better than you are giving him credit for; look how rapidly he's ascended from just a few months ago.

Posted by: Nissl | April 15, 2007 8:49 PM | Report abuse

I am just wondering how that "Hope" (because with Obama, it is a capital h) translates over to policy and action. Holding hands and singing "Kumbaya" does not strike me as the best platform. A nice smile and a cheery attitude is not what wins over legislative bodies. Everyone else is politics as usual, even if Obama isn't.

Posted by: Simon | April 15, 2007 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Go Obama Go! There is so much Hope surrounding Obama's campaign for President, I saw him speak today in Tampa, and I was taken away by him, he is so inspirational. Once the people see what he is about, he will easily win the democratic nomination, and then onto the White House. He is about hope and togetherness and giving the voice back to the people, not the politics of self-destruction and negative campaigning.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2007 8:08 PM | Report abuse

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