Q3 Campaign Fundraising Analysis

The quarter three fundraising numbers are in! Yesterday, I recapped the quarter two numbers and asked some questions about quarter three’s. Today, we have some answers. I’ll be using this helpful Bloomberg table which lets us sort by category. Here are its results by quarter three fundraising totals:

Poor Lincoln Chafee. Poor, poor Lincoln Chafee.
Poor Lincoln Chafee. Poor, poor Lincoln Chafee.

Let’s get the Democrats out of the way. As I discussed yesterday, we already knew that Clinton and Sanders were the biggest fundraisers in either party. It helps that it’s a field of five. O’Malley came in third among Democrats, but his 1.3 million is a drop in the bucket compared to the leaders. Lessig hit his one million dollar goal quickly but has done little since then. Webb’s six-figure total is embarrassing, and after his out-of-step and disappointing debate performance, I think he’s the candidate most likely to drop out first. Chafee’s “0.0” is just sad. His $100,000 worth of expenditures put him in the red for the quarter. Still, considering he’s not spending much at all, he’s probably in it until the primaries.

Speaking of the red, let’s move to the GOP. My big questions from yesterday were:

  1. How is Jeb Bush doing?
  2. How much did Carly Fiorina’s debate performances help?
  3. Are Carson and Cruz dominating the money race as much as I think they are?
  4. Can Marco Rubio’s great debates make up for it being an anti-establishment election cycle so far?
  5. What’s everyone “cash on hand” situation? Who is burning through most of their cash, and who is still sitting on a mountain of it?

Now some answers!

  1. It depends on how you spin it. On the one hand, among Republicans, he was only outpaced by red hot Ben Carson. Not bad. It showed that even if his polling is stagnant and he’s fifth in the field (with Cruz gaining), there is still enough faith in him from Republicans to give him the second best third quarter. Except for Cruz in third, he dominated every other Republican below him, including primary establishment rival Rubio, whose $6.7m he doubled. On the other hand, Bush was supposed to be a dominant fundraising candidate. That was supposed to be his not-so-secret weapon. The fact that he looks like just any other candidate, as the Washington Post put it this morning, is telling of a disappointing campaign. Plus, he may have raised the second most amount of money, but he’s also spending the second most. He’s down to 10.3 million cash on hand. Rubio has more.
  2. Fiorina had the biggest percentage jump from second to third quarter. She raised a scant $1.8m in quarter two, but quarter three earned her $6.8m. That ranked her fourth in the quarter among active Republicans (Scott Walker had a bit more). She now has more cash on hand than all but four candidates (Carson, Bush, Cruz, and Rubio).
  3. Carson is certainly dominant. He was the only Republican to approach what Clinton and Sanders were able to raise. Carson’s tirade against the media and political correctness has won him many backers. Cruz also did quite well, trailing only Carson and Bush. Relevantly, he’s spending comparatively little. He has the most cash on hand of the entire Republican field. He’s also raised more hard money than Bush over both quarters and trails only Carson in that regard.
  4. No. Rubio’s $6.7m has to feel a little disappointing after becoming the favorite on such enormous websites like PredictIt and Presidential Politics for America. That ranks fifth among Republicans. It makes you wonder what else he has to do to gain more financial backing. He’s twice debated great, he’s shown a lot of energy, he matches up well against Hillary Clinton, he’s Latino, and he’s from the election’s biggest swing state. Will the establishment ever rally to him to save the party?
  5. I’ve dealt with #5 in the above responses, but:
    • Most notable is how little Cruz is spending. He’s going to have a lot in the bank for the stretch run, furthering my case that he’s the most overlooked contender in the field.
    • Also worth noting is that Carson, while raising the most money, also spent the most money in the quarter — $14.2m. And yet, he still hasn’t quite gotten over the “Trump hump,” and Trump spent only $1.4m, ten times less than Carson. One wonders if he can keep up the pace.
    • Finally, the candidates who are spending far more than they are taking in: Rand Paul (raised $2.5m, spent $4.5m) and Lindsey Graham (raised $1.1m, spent $2.0m). Those are terrible signs as they try to keep their campaigns afloat. Huckabee and Jindal are also outspending income, however meager it is.

Other notes:

  • Looking at the bottom of the table, we see that George Pataki and Jim Gilmore have 0.0 left on hand. Might their campaigns be closing up shop soon? It’d be havoc as the field scrambles to divide their combined 0.3 percent support. Jindal and Santorum are also really struggling with fundraising, spending as much as they made with only a couple hundred thousand left. However, both are counting on a late Iowa surge, so don’t expect them to drop out any time soon.
  • Trump has become an interesting case study (for many reasons). Despite leading the polls for the duration of quarter three, he raised only $3.9 million, which was ninth among Republicans if you include Scott Walker. That’s because Trump has generally not fundraised. If you ever wondered how effective calls and emails asking for money are, Trump shows you. Fundraising outreach really does work.
  • None of these numbers reflect SuperPAC contributions. We won’t get those again until January.

Have a great weekend!


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