Wednesday :: Oct 15, 2003

Third Quarter Fundraising Shows Early Signs of a Shrinking Field

by Steve

Howard Dean raised more than three times as much money in the third quarter as his nearest rival John Kerry. The Dean campaign reported today raising $14.8 million in the quarter ending September 30, while spending $8.8 million. More importantly, the campaign estimates ending the quarter with still $12.4 million in the bank, with a year-to-date total raised of a pack-leading $25.4 million in building a national campaign infrastructure.

Kerry for his part raised $4 million in the third quarter, which was a half-million less than expected. Year-to-date the Kerry campaign has raised $20 million and still has $7.8 million in cash on hand while also spending $7.1 million in the third quarter in building a national organization.

Both Dean and Kerry, as the leading fundraisers amongst the field, face decisions as to whether or not to opt out of accepting taxpayer-financed matching money so that they can spend what they want up until the convention. Such a move by both would put almost all others in the field except possibly Clark at a serious disadvantage. Clark, who started his campaign formally only two weeks before the end of the filing period on September 30, already has raised $3.5 million in less than a month, with $3.4 million on hand.

Dick Gephardt raised about $3.8 million in the quarter, while reporting having $5.9 million on hand at the close of the quarter. Gephardt spent $4.3 million in the quarter and has raised $13.6 million for the year.

Joe Lieberman raised $3.6 million in the quarter, while spending exactly the same amount. The campaign missed its fundraising target by $400,000, and has raised $11.8 million for the year, with $4.1 million on hand as of September 30.

John Edwards, after getting off to a good start in fundraising earlier, raised only $2.6 million in the quarter, and has raised $14.5 million for the year. Edwards has $4.8 million on hand after spending $5.9 million in the quarter, the third highest of the campaigns. Much of Edwards’s expenditures were for a ramped-up TV campaign in Iowa and southern states.

What is noticeable from these numbers, aside from the prodigious totals for Dean and Clark are the “burn” rates for Edwards and Kerry. Although Kerry is truly trying to build a national infrastructure, he goes into the critical fourth quarter with less than two-thirds of the cash on hand of Dean, while watching Dean build a strong infrastructure. Kerry also missed his fundraising target for the quarter, which in part must have been due to Clark’s entrance. Edwards’ fundraising seems to have fallen off a cliff at a time when he is going for broke with TV buys. Yet his campaign is designed for victories not in Iowa or New Hampshire, but in later contests where his hoped-for successes in South Carolina may come too late to generate an infusion of new cash.

Gephardt is staying alive by banking on an all-or-nothing win in Iowa and ongoing union support. But he spent more in the quarter than he raised and is fighting for his life in Iowa against Dean. He is still in a good cash position to get him to Iowa and beyond only if he wins there.

Lieberman's campaign raised the second lowest of the top tier candidates and missed its target by $400,000. It also was embarrassed at seeing Clark raise almost more in two weeks than Lieberman did in the entire quarter. Moreover, Clark’s rise in the polls seems to have come largely at the expense of Lieberman, who has the least cash on hand of the top-tier candidates, which is lethal for a guy who is also considering ditching Iowa to focus on later contests.

It would not be difficult to conclude that Lieberman and Edwards at this rate will be on life support by Christmas, especially if Clark gets over his growing pains and maintains his position in the polls during the last quarter.

Steve :: 10:20 PM :: Comments (12) :: Digg It!