November 5, 2015

Top Bush Fundraiser Dumps Jeb for Rubio

  7:08 pm

On the heels of the news earlier today that Marco Rubio has managed to “lock down commitments from at least 25 previously undecided fundraising bundlers,” Politico breaks this tip-of-the-iceberg story:

Jeb Bush’s decision to attack old friend and new rival Marco Rubio is backfiring, pushing important supporters to criticize the campaign’s tactics and driving one of Florida’s top fundraisers to officially quit and signal a shift in allegiance to the senator.

“I think the world of Jeb Bush. He was a great governor of Florida and is a really good person, but the campaign has hijacked his message” said Brian Ballard, a Tallahassee lobbyist who contributed more than $25,000 of his own money and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars more for Bush’s campaign and the super PAC supporting him.

“I didn’t sign up for a campaign that was going to be negative and attack a bright star of the party’s future. It doesn’t make sense. I’m over it. And I’m done.”

Erick Erickson notes that this is the first of many such public defections that are likely to occur, signaling a slow, sad death of Jeb’s candidacy and political future.


November 4, 2015

REPORT: Trump Rejected by Sheldon Adelson, Paul Singer and the Koch brothers

  8:15 pm

Breaking news tonight from POLITICO has revealed that former GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, despite publicly declaring his intentions to self-finance his campaign, sought the financial backing of several GOP mega-doners. Trump, who has a personal net worth estimated to be $4-$10 billion, attempted and failed to court the support of hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, and billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch.  The story goes on to point out that many of Trump staff hires, including campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, were made in an effort to gain access to the Koch political network.  The story also details how these major donors spurned Trump’s advances, and how they are all now backing or leaning towards the campaign of Sen. Marco Rubio.

I and others have noted throughout the campaign that Mr. Trump’s net worth is primarily based on his real estate holdings, and that despite technically being billionaire, he actually only has access to around $300 million in liquid cash according to his own financial disclosure forms. With the primary campaign carrying an estimated cost of $50-$100 million and a general election likely to cost over $2 billion, Trump has never been in a realistic position to self-finance.

Stay tuned to Twitter for the ensuing meltdown.


Donor Records Point to a Rubio vs Cruz Final Two

  3:35 pm

People who donate to political candidates often hedge their bets by financially supporting more than one of them – and that’s especially true in a field as large as the current Republican one. National Journal has done some legwork and examined the FEC records to find out who the second choice of donors to each of the GOP candidates was. Their results were rather interesting:

Cruz and Ru­bio, who polls show to be two of the most broadly liked can­did­ates among Re­pub­lic­ans, are each the firm second choices of donors to nearly every oth­er can­did­ate in their re­spect­ive wings, ac­cord­ing to a Na­tion­al Journ­al ana­lys­is of item­ized dona­tions to each GOP pres­id­en­tial cam­paign.

That’s right: among donors to fifteen candidates, there are only two second choices. The article goes on to note an interesting phenomenon (which they use to oversimplify the race into the common grassroots/establishment dichotomy):

  • Rubio is the second choice of people who donated the most to Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, and John Kasich.
  • Cruz is the second choice of people who donated the most to Carson, Huckabee, Jindal, Paul, Santorum, and Trump.

The only exception to this finding was Chris Christie donors, who have Jeb Bush as their second choice (even then, it’s pretty easy to see them transitioning to Rubio after Bush drops out).

What this tells us is that as the field eventually beings to narrow, the money is going to begin consolidating quickly and decidedly behind these two candidates. Just one more data point indicating which way this race might be heading…


October 15, 2015

Q3 Fundraising Leaderboard

  6:33 pm

We’ll keep updating this as the numbers roll in, but most of the major players are on the board now.

Those with links in their names are official numbers from the FEC reports; no link indicates the numbers are unofficial from the campaigns.

As always, the best number to see where candidates have been is the total raised, and the best number to try and predict the future is the cash on hand totals.

Plenty here for everyone to discuss already:

2015 Q3 Fundraising Leaderboard
Rank Candidate Raised For Primaries (Q3) Other Revenue Cash on Hand Debt
1 Carson $20.77 million $11.27 million $0.03 million
2 Bush $13.38 million $10.37 million $0.404 million
3 Cruz $12.29 million $13.78 million $0
4 Fiorina $6.79 million $5.55 million $0
5 Rubio $5.72 million $10.98 million $0.08 million
6 Kasich $4.38 million $2.64 million $0
7 Christie $4.21 million $1.39 million $0.25 million
8 Trump $3.82 million $0.10 million3 $0.26 million $1.80 million
9 Paul $2.43 million $0.07 million1 $2.12 million $0.37 million
10 Huckabee $1.28 million $0.76 million $0.13 million
11 Graham $0.85 million $0.20 million1 $1.65 million $0
12 Jindal $0.58 million $0.26 million $0
13 Santorum $0.39 million $0.23 million $0.07 million
14 Pataki $0.13 million $0.022 $0.01 million $0.02 million

1Transfer of individual contributions from candidate’s Congressional fund or other political committees.
2Loan to the candidate’s campaign.
3Donation to the campaign from the candidate.


This Quarter’s Reports Matter More than Previous

  1:45 pm

This quarter, for the first time, we’ll get a solid reading on ‘burn rates’ – the preferred term for how much campaigns are bring in versus how much is going out.

Jeb Bush will be one candidate under the microscope:

Conceived as a fundraising juggernaut that would “shock and awe” opponents into oblivion, Bush’s campaign is suddenly struggling to raise hard dollars and increasingly economizing — not because he’s out of money, but to convince nervous donors, who are about to get their first look at his campaign’s burn rate, that he’s not wasting it.

“At a certain point, we want to see a bang for the buck. We’re spending the bucks — and we’re seeing no bang,” a longtime Bush Republican said.

Today’s reports will also aid in the understanding of the Walker and Perry campaigns, and the lessons learned there will provide a yardstick elsewhere.

By the end of today we should get more concrete autopsies of Scott Walker and Rick Perry’s downfalls from their campaigns’ quarterly reports. How similar the burn rates are between campaigns closed and those still running will indicate who’s in it for the long haul and those who will have to go home.

(Note: This quote is from a Hotline newsletter – no link available).


October 12, 2015

Looking For a Billlionaire

  1:14 pm

Last Spring, there was a rumor that Sheldon Adelson, with a net worth of more than $30 Billion, was on the verge of supporting Marco Rubio for President. It was said that he wouldn’t commit to doing so until after the September debate. Marco had even then been assiduously courting Adelson with a half dozen private meetings and regular phone calls.  Adelson is the guy who kept Newt Gingrich in the race last time out, and Marco needed that kind of assistance.  He needs it a lot more now.  But so far, Sheldon has been keeping his money.

Meanwhile, Marco has been working another angle along similar lines.  He is one of the five finalists for financial backing from the network of the Koch brothers.  By themselves, the Kochs have somewhere between $80 Billion and $106 Billion, depending on which published estimate you want to believe.  And in their network there is a lot more than that.  Of the $890 Million the network has suggested it will spend this cycle on political activity, more than $300 Million will go to candidates, but the decision hasn’t been made as to who that money is going to go to yet.  The Koch’s have hinted that they might help fund more than one candidate, and other candidates in the running include Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich.

The one Billionaire who has committed to Marco is Wayne Berman, from his home state of Florida.  Berman is Rubio’s national finance chairman, which is a lonely position to hold at the moment.  Marco raised all of $6 Million in the second quarter.  That leaves him with $11 Million on hand, but he, and Conservative Solutions, the Super PAC that’s been helping him, have reserved television advertising of something like $25 Million,  an amount that’s currently out of reach.  To quote Berman:  “We have no margin for error in our fund raising.”  His conundrum is spelled out by another Berman maxim:  “In modern American politics, money is often the strongest predictor of success.”

So Marco’s need for a Billionaire to come along like a knight in shining armor is manifest.  His campaign is being run on the proverbial shoe string.  It pays 18 salaries.  By contrast, Jeb’s pays more than 50.  It keeps down Marco’s burn rate, but a lot of things that really need to be done for the campaign have not been getting done.  And if you’re a Billionaire looking for the ideal candidate to throw big bucks to, do you pick one that only managed to raise $6 Million in an entire Quarter?

To illustrate this, consider a tale of two fund raisers.  This last weekend in Las Vegas, dozens of donors and potential donors gathered together to raise money for Marco.  They ate fast food hamburgers, shook hands with a celebrity pawn shop owner, and played flag football with the candidate.

Later this month, at a Bush fundraiser in Houston, hundreds of donors to Jeb’s campaign will meet with the candidate, shake hands with two former Presidents of The United States, meet real celebrities, and dine considerably better.  While Jeb hasn’t released his fund raising totals for the Second Quarter yet, he’s sent emails to his donors, thanking them for helping his campaign exceed its Quarterly fundraising goal.

Jeb and his Right To Rise Super PAC have just begun a planned $50 Million television advertising blitz that will run through February.  No money needs to be raised to fund it.  It’s already been raised.  New money raised will fund an increasingly more powerful ground campaign organization, or will be held in reserve for March.

Is money the only criterion successful campaigns are built on?  Not by any means.  There are things like endorsements,  policy prescriptions, a resume, networks, superior organization, and name recognition.  Marco’s problem is that Jeb is ahead of him in every one of these, mostly by very large margins.  In endorsements, e.g., according to 538’s Tracker, Jeb is #1 and Marco is #8.  He’s behind, in descending order,  Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, John Kasich, Ted Cruz, and even Lindsey Graham.

What Marco does have is a gift for communicating a superb grasp of the issues facing the country, and a well thought out series of positions on the issues, as well as a boyishly likable personality.   And also, he possesses an undefinable “it” factor.  These can transcend considerations like his flip flopping on issues like immigration, zero chief executive experience, and having the highest absentee record in the Senate.

What they can’t transcend is all that other stuff.  So if a Billionaire comes along to bail him out he might succeed despite his campaign’s manifest failings in so many other areas.

Maybe one will come along.



October 1, 2015

Rand Paul to Report $2.5 Million Raised in 3Q

  3:53 pm


Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) will report around $2.5 million in donations to his presidential campaign, a dip from his first quarter, though his campaign is emphasizing that more money started to roll in recently.

Rand Paul raised a decently respectable $7 million in Q2, so a decline from that down to just $2.5 million is a tough pill to swallow for Team Paul. Additionally, Paul’s campaign said they currently have $2 million cash on hand, a total that will not allow them to do a whole lot moving forward. After raising $7 million in Q2, they ended with $4 million on hand. Raising an additional $2.5 million now indicates they spent $4 million over Q3 only to see Paul’s numbers continue to decline.

After spending $3 million in Q2 and $4 million in Q3, it’s difficult to see what $2 million more gets them at this point.

As more numbers continue to come in, we will begin posting them on the Race42016 Fundraising Leaderboard so we can keep track of them all…


September 30, 2015

Trouble in Bushland: Jeb’s Q3 Fundraising Total Will be Less Than Carson’s

  10:34 pm


With just hours to go until the third-quarter fundraising deadline at midnight, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush is expected to surpass his $11.4 million haul from last quarter, according to people involved with the campaign…

The former Florida governor, who is kin to two former American president, was outraised over the summer by retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who has never held run for office before. Mr. Carson, who is running in second place behind Mr. Trump in national polls, collected $20 million over the last three months…

Jeb Bush raised less money than Ben Carson. Just pause for a moment and let that sink in.

Jeb Bush, the dynastic insider with more connections to Republican donors than every other candidate combined, raised less money than Ben Carson.

Bush raised more than $11 million but less than $20 million. “Shock and awe” is officially and completely dead. Marco Rubio will almost certainly outraise Jeb Bush, and probably pretty handily.

All of this isn’t cause for concern, according to the Bush campaign, though. Why?

Mr. Bush’s supporters are counting on the super PAC backing him, Right to Rise, to offset any rival’s campaign fundraising advantage.

That worked out super well for Rick Perry and Scott Walker…


The Doctor is In: Ben Carson to Report $20 Million 3Q Haul

  12:30 pm

CNN has the scoop on this massive fundraising haul for Dr. Carson:

Ben Carson’s presidential campaign says it’s close to having raised $20 million in the traditionally slow summer fundraising quarter, a figure that would be the largest announced haul of any Republican so far this cycle and give the insurgent new political durability.

Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who has never held public office, said in a fundraising email to supporters Saturday that his campaign was “on the verge of our biggest month ever — a whopping $10 million dollars raised.” The campaign has previously said that he raised $9 million total in July and August, and the $20 million figure was confirmed by campaign spokesman Doug Watts.

For reference sake, Carson raised eight and a half million last quarter, a total which was impressive in its own right given the relatively unknown nature of Carson’s candidacy back then. Clearly, Carson has been able to leverage his media attention and turn it into big money this quarter. That $20 million figure represents more than any candidate raised in Q2 or Q3 of the 2012 campaign, and so far, more than any candidate has raised during the 2016 campaign as well.


September 22, 2015

Where Will the Walker Infrastructure Go?

  12:51 pm

Sometimes the biggest thing about a candidate dropping out isn’t their raw vote totals moving to another candidate. Obviously, in the case of Scott Walker, his supporters had already moved on before yesterday’s announcement. But Walker dropping out changed the overall topography of the race, and also left behind a lot of infrastructure — donors and staff — for other campaigns to fight over. So where will that money and talent end up?

So far, the answer is with Marco Rubio and, to a much lesser extent, Jeb Bush. Walker’s New Hampshire co-chair, Cliff Hurst, signed on with Team Rubio immediately after finding out Walker was bowing out. Additionally, five prominent Walker backers in Iowa, including three county chairs and the chair of Iowa Students for Walker, moved from Walker to Rubio yesterday as well. Finally, Drew Johnson, a well known South Carolina activist and Walker supporter, endorsed Rubio as well.

Meanwhile, former Wisconsin GOP Chair Richard Graber moved from Walker to Jeb Bush following the announcement.

There are many more talented staffers up for grabs, and we should continue seeing headlines about their decisions in the coming days. For instance, Walker had two other New Hampshire co-chairs, including one who played a prominent role in Romney’s and McCain’s victories there, so it will be interesting to see where they end up. Walker also had many more county chairs in Iowa, something that is a necessity given the organizational heft required to win the caucuses in the Hawkeye State.

But what about the donors? Clearly, Walker didn’t raise as much money as he had hoped to, but seeing who his donors move to will give us a glimpse into which way this campaign is heading.

Walker had three main donors to his Super PAC: the Ricketts, Diane Hendricks, and Stanley Hubbard. The Ricketts have already donated to Cruz, Christie, Bush, Rubio, and Graham, and say they will choose one to back with larger sums of money at some point in the future. Hendricks hasn’t said who she could support now. Hubbard, though, has said he will choose one of four candidates moving forward: Fiorina, Rubio, Christie, or Carson.

Austin Barbour, who led Rick Perry’s Super PAC and keeps his finger on the pulse of major donors, said from his conversations it sounds like Walker’s other donors will choose Bush, Rubio, Fiorina, or Christie. As for Rick Perry’s former donors? Barbour says they will divide between Bush, Rubio, and Fiorina.

While that sounds like a whole mess of candidates are in the running for Walker’s (and Perry’s) former donors, if we put it all together we can see some patterns emerging:

Ricketts Hubbard Walker Donors Perry Donors
Christie Christie Christie
Bush Bush Bush
Rubio Rubio Rubio Rubio
Fiorina Fiorina Fiorina

Obviously, Rubio stands to gain the most from the Walker/Perry exits, with Bush, Fiorina, and Christie all positioned to benefit as well. The names who are not on this list, though, is what is even more interesting: Paul, Huckabee, and Kasich come immediately to mind, as well as all of the zero-percenters like Jindal. And seeing Cruz and Carson only under consideration by one donor each is rather surprising as well.

Given the direction staffers and donations seem to be heading in the aftermath of Walker’s decision, it looks like the race – for now – is headed for that Sunshine State showdown we predicted six months ago, with Fiorina (and potentially Cruz and Christie?) playing a smaller role in the drama.

UPDATE: According to Politico, the Bush campaign has picked up two more Walker staffers from Iowa and a student leader from Georgia; Cruz has won three of Walker’s Iowa staffers, two from Nevada, and one from Georgia; and Christie has announced the support a former Walker Iowa backer.

UPDATE II: Governor Jindal has announced the support of one of Walker’s former Iowa County Chairs, Eric Kruse. Jindal-mentum?

So all total, so far, this is where Walker’s people have gone:

  • Rubio – 5 IA, 1 NH, 1 SC
  • Bush – 2 IA, 1 WI, 1 GA
  • Cruz – 3 IA, 2 NV, 1 GA
  • Christie – 1 IA
  • Jindal – 1 IA

More to come…


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