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GOP Money Problems Grow

Lost in the hubbub surrounding Super Tuesday was is the fact that late last week all of the presidential candidates -- and the various party campaign committees -- released their year-end fundraising figures.

From the presidential level to the congressional level, these numbers bode extremely poorly for Republicans already fighting a difficult national political environment because of continued public unhappiness with the war in Iraq and the state of the economy.

"It's a big deal," said one senior Republican fundraiser, granted anonymity to speak candidly, of the money gap at the congressional level. "With every retirement of a senior Republican in a swing district, the fundraising disparity becomes more and more of a problem." (Twenty-eight House Republicans have announced they are leaving Congress this year; just six Democrats have done the same.)

Let's start with the dash for cash in the presidential contest.

The two remaining Democratic candidates -- Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama -- each collected more than $100 million this year. Clinton led the way with $118 million in total receipts ($106 million from individuals) while Obama took in $104 million ($102 million from individuals.) Taken together, Clinton and Obama raised $222 million in 2007 with $208 million of that total coming from individuals.

Compare that total to that of the two best-funded candidates on the Republican side -- former governor Mitt Romney (Mass.) and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Romney collected $90 million last year -- more than a third of which ($35 million) came from his own pocket. Take Romney's massive personal contribution out of his fundraising, however, and he has collected $53.5 million from individuals. Giuliani, who dropped from the race following a disappointing third place finish in Florida last week, raised $60 million total with $57.5 million of that coming from individual contributors. Add contributions to Romney and Giuliani together and you get $150 million -- not too shabby. Subtract Romney's personal donation, however, and the two best-financed Republicans together raised $111 million from individuals -- barely more than either Clinton or Obama collected on their own.

It's not just at the top where the disparity between Democratic and Republican presidential candidates exists, however. Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), who after tomorrow is likely to be the odds-on favorite for the GOP presidential nod, raised $40 million in 2007, a total that includes $36 million in individual contributions. That total is decidedly similar to the $44 million raised by former senator John Edwards (D-N.C.). (Edwards actually raised $35 million from individuals and took out a $9 million bank loan against the federal matching money he received by accepting public financing in the primaries.)

The rough financial equivalence between Edwards, long an also-ran in the Democratic primary money chase, and McCain, the newly-minted Republican frontrunner, speaks volumes.

The problem for the GOP extends far down the ballot.

Among the House campaign committees, the race for campaign cash is not even close. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee collected $67.5 million last year while the National Republican Congressional Committee raised $49.5 million.

Even worse for the NRCC: It outspent the DCCC by more than $10 million last year. At the end of the year, the
Democratic committee had $35 million in the bank -- seven times as much as the House Republicans had on hand.

"Over the last 5 years, the Speaker and House Democrats have worked aggressively to grow and broaden our grassroots, online, and member support," said DCCC spokesman Doug Thornell of his organization's cash collecting efforts. "Our success in 2007 was largely a function of this effort."

The numbers are not much better for Senate Republicans. At the close of 2007, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee -- led by known fundraising animal Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) -- brought in $55.4 million and ended the year with more than $29 million in the bank.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee raised just short of $32 million in that same time period and closed the year with $12 million in the bank.

The lone bright spot for Republicans was the financial performance of the Republican National Committee. The RNC brought in $86 million in 2007 and ended the year with $17 million in the bank. The Democratic National Committee, on the other hand, raked in $55 million and closed the year with just $3 million in the bank.

What do all these numbers mean and how big a problem is the growing financial chasm for Republicans?

Money -- and donors' willingness to give it -- speaks to enthusiasm within the respective bases of the two parties. For much of the 1990s (and earlier this decade) Republicans enjoyed a huge fundraising edge thanks to excitement among activists and donors who helped propel GOPers to control of Congress and the White House during that time period.

By the 2006 elections, however, the both fundraising and political fortunes of the two parties had become reversed. For the first time in recent political history, the Democratic campaign committees were at parity with their Republican counterparts -- a money surge fueled by the base's unhappiness with the policies of President George W. Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress. That surge has continued in spades so far this cycle as anger at the president has grown even more fierce and the fight over the man (or woman) who will take his place has begun in earnest.

The impact on the presidential race will be, frankly negligible. In the 2004 election, Bush and Sen. John Kerry (Mass.), as well as groups advocating for them, spent hundreds of millions of dollars and neither side emerged with a clear spending advantage. The same scenario seems likely to come to pass in 2008 as the wide open race will almost assuredly lure donors small and large. No matter who winds up as the nominees of their respective parties, it's a near-certainty that they will have more than enough money to run the sort of national campaign we have grown accustomed to.

Down ballot races, however, could be seriously affected by the Republican financial shortfall.

In the 2006 election when House Republicans lost 30 seats and their majority, party strategists insisted it could have been far worse was it not for the NRCC's ability to come into a series of district and spend big bucks to ensure the election or re-election of a Republican candidate.

If the current financial disparity continues -- and there is absolutely no reason to think it won't -- endangered Republican incumbents will face a double money whammy: they won't enjoy the financial cover from the national party committees they have benefited from in recent years and they will likely have to endure heavy spending against them by national Democrats.

Add to that the fact that Republicans are retiring at both the House and Senate level at a far more rapid rate than their Democratic colleagues and it could well be a VERY difficult year to be a Republican running for Congress.

By Chris Cillizza  |  February 4, 2008; 4:05 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The Efficacy of Electability?
Next: Reaching Out To Rush?


When either the GOP or the Dems are having trouble raising campaign cash I think it's really the voters who have the problem. With our whole political system awash in all this special interest money, whose interests do we really think our public officials are serving? We need public financing of campaigns in the worst way.

Posted by: cmrced | February 8, 2008 6:50 PM | Report abuse

John Edwards should tell Mitt Romney he could feed 250,000 people for a month with the money he has spent on an ultimately unsuccesfull presidential run.

Posted by: anthonyjbrady | February 5, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Gee, lemme get this straight: One man raises $44 million, can't get any coverage on the Teevee, is said to be failing when he "only" gets 20% of the vote in a 8-way race, and is branded by the media as an "also-ran", while another man raises about the same amount of money, gets to be on Meet The Press every other Sunday, is said to be "surging" when he gets 11% of the vote, and has now been anointed by the media as the odds-on favorite to be his party's nominee. WOW! The Liberal Media Meme is DEAD!

Posted by: kwagner99 | February 5, 2008 8:56 AM | Report abuse

The dramatic fall off in contributions to Republicans, could it be an example of the failure of trickle down economics or a lack of compassionate conservatism?

Posted by: steve.hunter | February 5, 2008 12:13 AM | Report abuse

Transparent individual donations? Like the 150,000 dollars that Obama now acknowledges Rezko -- his patron for some 15 years assembled? How much came from the good folks at Exelon?

Sure everybody has somebody who donates to them that could have been checked out better but Obama knew all about Rezko -- phony minority business concessions at O'Hare that got yanked and about Exelon a major source of contributors. (Obama boasted of fixing the little problem they have with not telling the neighbors about their nuclear leaks but there really wasn't a fix. Nice guy, that Obama.)

Many of the small donors hear the lovely rhetoric but don't check the facts.

Posted by: Respectthe9thAmendment | February 4, 2008 11:29 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: amishcar | February 4, 2008 11:15 PM | Report abuse

guiliani and his 3rd expensive wifey had a great time living it up at spas and resorts and expensive restaurants on the campaign trail, on their contributor''s dime. hope it was a nice voyeuristic experience for you, zouk.

Posted by: drindl | February 4, 2008 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Chris Ciz Writes:

"In the 2006 election when House Republicans lost 30 seats and their majority, party strategists insisted it could have been far worse was it not for the NRCC's ability to come into a series of district and spend big bucks to ensure the election or re-election of a Republican candidate."

Let's not forget that the districts in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania and even California and New York (via mutual agreement between D's and R's) were drawn using the best redistricting software known to mankind with teh sole intention of protecting incumbants.

Republicans are lucky they didn't lose 50 seats in 11/06 under nornal circumstances.

Posted by: Digital_Voter | February 4, 2008 8:40 PM | Report abuse

hey zouk, how much $$ did you waste on contributions to loser Giuliani? He's laughing at you and your fellow loser-backers.

Posted by: Spectator2 | February 4, 2008 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Away with you GOP scum. A taste of your own medicine. The GOP, trampling all over uninsured children, the elderly, lower income Americans, and disabled Iraqi vets. Now go and beg you buffoons...

Posted by: hayden1 | February 4, 2008 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Dems, nominate Shrillary and watch the Republican dollars FLOOD in...

Posted by: ryan.crowley | February 4, 2008 6:00 PM | Report abuse

I was a poli sci student and knew poli sci student. Poli sci students were friends of mine. And poliscistudent, you're no poli sci student.

Posted by: Spectator2 | February 4, 2008 05:11 PM

Is this what passes as humor nowadays in the Dem circles? no wonder you have a comedian running for Senate. no wonder all your TV shows have sush dismal ratings. Is Keith Olberman considered a comedienne too? He is laughable but I don't think it is intended. On the other hand, bill Maher isn't funny in the least.

how is it that up is down in the Lib party? winning is losing in wars, bad economics is good, indecision is decisive, etc.

Posted by: kingofzouk | February 4, 2008 5:57 PM | Report abuse

As ye sow, so shall ye reap. Six years of bumbling mismanagement, rampant delusions and wasted American lives SHOULD extract a high price.

Posted by: judgeccrater | February 4, 2008 05:39 PM

Not so fast - Obama still has to get elected

Posted by: kingofzouk | February 4, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

"...and it could well be a VERY difficult year to be a Republican running for Congress."

As ye sow, so shall ye reap. Six years of bumbling mismanagement, rampant delusions and wasted American lives SHOULD extract a high price.

Posted by: judgeccrater | February 4, 2008 5:39 PM | Report abuse

I, too, am floored by how much Rudy raised and what it got him. I'd be ticked off if I was a big donor. What a screwup of a campaign. Was Mike Brown his manager?

Posted by: steveboyington | February 4, 2008 5:39 PM | Report abuse

good riddance etc.

Posted by: zippydw | February 4, 2008 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Proud.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 4, 2008 5:28 PM | Report abuse

CC writes Giuliani... raised $60 million total with $57.5 million of that coming from individual contributors"

Which amounts to perhaps THE most expensive 6 week Florida vacation ever.

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | February 4, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

I think of all the numbers being discussed, the Obama small donors is the most impressive figure.

Obama has a guaranteed war chest for the duration.

If he splits the delegate count tomorrow, nobody will stop his momentum. He will be the people's choice.

Posted by: rfpiktor | February 4, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

I was a poli sci student and knew poli sci student. Poli sci students were friends of mine. And poliscistudent, you're no poli sci student.

Posted by: Spectator2 | February 4, 2008 5:11 PM | Report abuse

thecrisis | February 4, 2008 04:58 PM

Richardson is not endorsing.

Posted by: rfpiktor | February 4, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Time to drink the KoolAde
Drink the KoolAde...

Posted by: kase | February 4, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Hold up!

Did poliscistudent just say romney had financial and electoral support? He had to spend $35 mil. of his own money, and is closer in the poles to hucklebee then he is to mccain.

Oh, I'm sorry. He must mean in Wyoming.

Posted by: bruce.w1 | February 4, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse


That's nice and all, but if you take into account the fact that Obama has more than 650,000 individual donors, along with the fact that the near entirety of his money is from individual donors, he beats Clinton, regardless of the fact that she rolled over more money from her senate account to her presidential account.

CC, you need to mention how many individual donors are contributing if you want this to be valid. One voter donating $1,000 is not equal to ten voters donating $100 each. Individual donors affects the fundraising debate because as we know, individuals are limited to how much they can donate (so candidates with more individual donors have a higher fundraising potential) and it also shows the breadth of support for each candidate in financial terms.

Obama's numbers, in this regard, make even Ron Paul and Mitt Romney blush.

Posted by: thecrisis | February 4, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Romney has the support financially and electorally to clinch the nomination. He is the finest candidate who has run in decades.

Posted by: poliscistudent | February 4, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

It's the best thing that could happen to the GOP because after 2 years of Dem control if they win the WH (which is not a sure bet) voters will throw them out and the GOP will have re-grouped and will be ready. All the older ones in the GOP are getting out now but the dems turn will come when the same thing will happen to them. Dems have a lot of old people in the house and senate. As popular as Clinton was voters still seem to want divided government.

Posted by: sque1 | February 4, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Chris I posted earlier about the US media excluding Ron Paul from any political debate or discussion. I read your article and was amazed that you didnt find the total monies raised for the 4th quarter of 2007 wouldnt be viable point. Here is a chart taken from, you guessed it ---

Democrats $62,692,778
Hillary Rodham Clinton $26,064,807
Barack Obama $22,608,647

Republicans $65,232,752
Ron Paul $19,846,456
Mitt Romney $8,879,637
John McCain $6,729,428
Mike Huckabee $6,627,692
Alan Keyes $186,028

Ron Paul number 1 in the 4th quarter --- you dont find that newsworthy?

Posted by: acsht | February 4, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Thecrisis: Um, no. Read the post again. Clinton out-raised from individuals $106 mill to Obama's $102 mill. Additionally, this post was about the problems the GOP face with fund-raising, so unsure of why this needed to be a 'GObama' moment...

Posted by: anthonyrimell | February 4, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Obama wins on transparency and individual fundraising capability. GObama '08.

Posted by: thecrisis | February 4, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

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