RNC Releases February $ Numbers
The Republican National Committee raised just over $5 million in February and cut spending by roughly 40 percent as compared to the first month of the year, according to figures released by the committee this afternoon.
The RNC collected $5.1 million in February and ended the month with $24 million in the bank, a $1 million cash on hand improvement from its showing at the end of January.
"Chairman Steele will continue to focus as he has from day one on the organization, staff and resources necessary to win elections," said Jim Dyke, an adviser to the RNC.
At this same time in the 2008 election cycle, the RNC raised $7.2 million in February and ended the month with $10.8 million in the bank. (The comparison is inexact as Republicans controlled the White House and were preparing for a costly presidential race at this time two years ago.)
The RNC fundraising numbers will draw considerable scrutiny as they represent the first quantitative analysis of Chairman Michael Steele's first month in office, which, qualitatively, is kindly described as a struggle.
In conversations with Republican operatives -- those friendly to Steele and those less inclined to see the good in the new chairman -- the fundraising question was raised repeatedly.
If Steele was able to fundraise effectively, concerns about his ability to stay on-message would dissipate, the sources argued. If, on the other hand, Steele proved a less than stellar fundraiser, calls for his removal would increase.
The February report likely buys Steele some time although it doesn't offer conclusive evidence to answer the questions swirling around him. Steele's cost-cutting and ability to add to the cash on hand total will be touted by allies as signs of progress. Detractors will note that a series of $5 million months is not the stuff that will return Republicans to the majority. (In February 2008, the RNC raised more than $10.5 million.)
Remember that context matters. If the Democratic National Committee, which has not yet released its February numbers, posts a massive fundraising month, the pressure will ramp up on Steele to flex the RNC's fundraising muscle in March or else. If the DNC's February number is more pedestrian, Steele will face less immediate pressure to exponentially increase the RNC's February take.
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