Kerry Matches Bush In First Quarter Fundraising - Exceeds All Of Gore's 2000 Total
It appears that despite poll numbers that indicate Bush’s hammering of an absent Kerry campaign has leveled the race to dead even, Kerry and the DNC have accomplished something unheard of. Kerry has raised more money in a quarter ($50 million) than any presidential challenger, and managed to withstand a mind-boggling $40 million one-month assault from Bush. Kerry raised more in the first quarter than Gore did in all of the 2000 cycle. Terry McAuliffe, for his part at the DNC, has managed to not only eliminate the DNC’s staggering debt, but has also raised $27 million for the debt-free party to start the campaign with. And both the DSCC and DCCC are exceeding their fundraising targets as well.
Better yet, Hollywood is finally jumping in, with more than $6 million coming from a two-day sweep in California just this week. It’s gotten so good for the Democrats that the GOP is complaining about how Kerry and the 527’s are raising money. The Post story indicates that Kerry came close by himself to raising what Bush raised in the first quarter. And although the White House now says that Bush will have to raise $250 million, Democratic strategists and observers feel that Kerry by himself will exceed his initial $80 million pre-convention target and actually be able to raise $120 million, not including the 527’s. James Carville, in the Post piece says that Kerry, who has spent only $6 million on media so far as compared to Bush’s $40 million, should be spending every dime he can touch now to offset Rove’s efforts to paint Kerry negatively. I agree with Carville, as the smear effort by Rove has worked in the polls to knock Kerry back to even with Bush especially in battleground states, and has raised Kerry’s negatives.
Even with this fundraising success, my long-standing concerns with the campaign remain. There still is no offensive strategy, no use of surrogates to hammer Bush, no Tier Two campaign, and no identified issues or themes. And it doesn’t help that Cahill and Shrum in a campaign shake-up dumped Jim Margolis yesterday from doing more media, with the result being that Shrum gets more of the business. It is not clear whether Margolis or Shrum have done the less-than-stellar media to date. Hopefully the campaign will bring aboard new and better media instead of relying upon Shrum, who was responsible for Gore’s media in 2000.
But Kerry has also brought John Sasso aboard formally to work with the DNC and that may help. It may also help that voters are getting wise to Bush’s “compassionate” façade. A Post poll out tomorrow shows that voters no longer buy the compassionate conservative label for Bush. As the story indicates, Bush and Rove don’t really care about this, because they are playing only to their base and on the assumption that only 1-4% of the electorate will really be up for grabs this time. Rove has been playing for the base and against getting swing voters, while gambling that there will be few such undecided voters up for grabs anyway. He assumes that he can do a better job of getting his base out than Kerry can, and will try to demotivate and discourage Democrats from turning out.
At least the early fundraising results argue against Rove’s plans. If Kerry can raise this amount of money so quickly, more money will follow. And the level of money coming in, while not an endorsement of the sleepy Kerry campaign, is a welcome sign that Democrats will be turning out in droves to get Bush out of office, unlike 2000.
Now if only Kerry can use that money to go on offense and focus on several themes with good media….
Regardless of my whining, chip in what you can for Kerry and the DNC through the links on the right side of the blog, and thanks.