Posts about the original sin of politics.

"Starting Later" is No Explanation

Yesterday's Corning Leader says this about Kuhl's lackluster fundraising:

One possible explanation for the discrepancy in fund raising numbers is the length of time the two candidates have been officially in the race.  While it was widely speculated Kuhl would run for reelection, he did not officially kick off his re-election campaign until March.
Kuhl kicked off his 2006 campaign at about the same time as this year's campaign.  According to his Q1 2006 report, he raised $764K by the end of March, 2006.  His latest report shows that he's raised $606K over the same period this cycle.  He's raised $160K less in a comparable period, and his cash on hand is down roughly $75K.

In contrast, Massa raised $255K by this time in the 2006 cycle.  He's raised $868K this time.

Kuhl faces a more experienced, more well-known, and better-financed candidate this cycle, and he does so with less cash than he had last cycle.  This is grim news for the Kuhl campaign, and no spin will change that fact.

Massa on Gas and Money

Reader Elmer sends the front page [pdf] and jump [pdf] of two stories in today's Corning Leader.  One story is about rising gas prices.  Eric Massa is the main subject, and he states his opposition to John McCain's plan to temporarily suspend gas taxes to lower the price of gas. 

The other story is Massa and Kuhl's fundraising numbers, which includes one rationale for Kuhl's low numbers:  he started later than Massa.

The Hornell Evening Tribune also has a story on Massa and Kuhl's fundraising numbers. 

Money Stories

Both of the area's Gannett papers, the D&C and the Star-Gazette,  ran stories about the Massa and Kuhl money numbers.  Both quote Massa and the RNCC.  The RNCC thinks 2006 was the "worst environment for Republicans in decades". 

Update: The Messenger-Post also has a money story.  This one quotes Kuhl's confidence that he'll get his message across.

Kuhl's Q1 Money Numbers

Randy Kuhl's campaign finance report is out.  Kuhl raised $110K last quarter, less than half of what Massa's total.  Kuhl has $365K cash on hand, $200K less than Massa.  Kuhl raised $47K from individuals, and $64K from PACs.

Massa Money Numbers

The Massa campaign has issued a press release with their first quarter fundraising numbers.  Massa raised $278K during the first three months of the year, and increased his cash on hand to $565K.

This performance is almost identical to the fourth quarter of 2007, and Massa's cash on hand is up about $150K.

Neither the Kuhl nor Massa official reports have hit the FEC website yet.

The Obama Model for Congressional Campaigns

The Obama campaign is raising huge amounts of cash from small donors.  Could this style of fundraising catch on in congressional districts? 

I did a little back-of-the envelope calculation, and for now, I think the answer is no.  The Obama campaign recently announced that they have over one million donors.  And Obama says that the average donation received by his campaign is $109.  If you scale that to the 29th district (here are the details),  Eric Massa could raise roughly $300K if could somehow replicate Obama's success on a smaller scale. 

That number is one-tenth of what Massa says he needs to be competitive in the 29th.  So even if my calculations are off, I doubt if they're off by an order of magnitude.  We've got a way to go before all campaign financing comes from a large number of small donors.

It's Hard Out There for a Republican

Commenters and emailers who are wondering if Randy Kuhl is going to resign consistently point to his poor fundraising as evidence that he's not trying hard to get re-elected.  I disagree.  I think Kuhl's fundraising problems are structural, not personal.

Last cycle, the majority of Kuhl's financial support came from PACs whose interests dovetailed with Kuhl's committee assignments.  At the time he gathered those donations, Kuhl was a member of the Republican majority that had run Congress with an iron fist for over a decade.  Kuhl's clout, such as it was, came from his ability to get the attention of the Republican leadership of those committees, and to be a vote in the committee majority.  In 2006, sending money to Kuhl seemed like a good investment for PACs interested in advancing their legislative agenda.

Today, it's almost inconceivable that Republicans will be in control of the House after the election.  It's far more likely that President Obama will use Democratic majorities in the House and Senate to ram through his agenda, no matter what a backbench Republican like Kuhl has to say.  If you're an organization with a legislative agenda, a donation to Randy Kuhl or any other Republican is simply a bad investment, no matter what you think of Kuhl or how many times he calls you to ask for money.

Republican fundraising is lackluster across the board.  Last month, John McCain was out-raised 7-to-1 by Clinton and Obama.  At the end of January, the Republican Congressional and Senatorial committees had $50 million less cash on hand than their Democratic counterparts.  Blaming Kuhl for this state of affairs is blaming the victim.

Two Possibly Related Stories

John Boehner tells Republicans to get off their "dead asses" and start raising money.

Randy Kuhl holds two fundraisers next weekend.

Filthy Lucre

The FEC has updated fundraising summaries for both Eric Massa and Randy Kuhl.  The totals for Political Action Committee (PAC) and individual contributions are essentially mirror opposites for the two candidates.  The majority of Kuhl's money is PAC money, and the majority of Massa's is contributions from individuals.

Since Kuhl continues to rely on corporate donors, it's no surprise that he's having trouble raising funds.  Most observers believe that House Democrats will increase their majority, so giving money to a minority back-bencher is not a great investment in influence buying.   And, as commenter James pointed out, the rumors about Kuhl's retirement are probably going to lead corporate donors to hold off on giving to Kuhl until they're sure he's in the race.  Corporate contributors to James Walsh (NY-25) were burned by his late retirement.  They won't want to make the same mistake twice.

Kuhl isn't the only Republican having trouble fundraising. The Hill newspaper has a detailed analysis listing other Republican incumbents who have fallen behind their opponents in the money race.

FEC Numbers In

Reader James pointed out that the FEC has posted the 4th Quarter 2007 fundraising numbers.

Eric Massa out-raised Randy Kuhl by about $120K.  Massa raised $276K, compared to Kuhl's $157K.   Massa also has more cash on hand, with $415K compared to Kuhl's $327K. 

Final national Congressional committee numbers are also in.  The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has a 7-to-1 cash on hand advantage over the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The Politico also reports that some donors are angry about the late notice given by GOP retirees, since a lot of corporate donors gave large donations which will have to be returned. 
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