On July 20th USA Today reported how the two Presidential campaigns are doing in the fundraising wars. The results were sufficiently interesting that I thought that it might be worthwhile to break them down: below is a chart of how the Democrats (Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee, and the Obama Victory Fund) matched up against the Republicans (Romney for President, the Republican National Commitee, and Romney Victory, Inc.).
The first thing to draw from this is the alarming burn rate that the Democrats are experiencing right now. Well, alarming for them; it’s not so much that the President spent so much money in June as it is that there doesn’t seem to have been much gain from it. RCP gives the poll averages as being 46.8 Obama / 44.3 Romney at the beginning of the month, and 47.5 Obama / 43.8 Romney at the end of it (today’s [July 21st, 2012] average is 46.4 Obama / 44.7 Romney). The Democrats did not spend fifty-eight million dollars in June of 2012 to move the needle from +2.5 Obama to +3.7 Obama, particularly since as of today that number is +1.7 Obama. Which is not to say that the money was ill-spent; if dumping in the cash like this was the only way to keep the campaign afloat, then obviously the cash has to be spent. But a best possible Return on Investment is not necessarily the same as a good one.
Second, let’s look at cash directly raised and spent (as The Hill notes, OfA has a significant edge over RfP on cash-on-hand, although it’s the other way around when you look at the parties as a whole) at this point in the 2008 cycle:
|JM 2008 Inc||22.19||27.00|
|Diff, R 08/12||10.85||0.54|
|Diff, D 08/12||-8.37||32.34|
To refresh people’s memories: the nomination fights were both effectively over by June of 2008. John McCain had wrapped up the nomination fairly early – about as early as Mitt Romney did, in fact – and Hillary Clinton conceded to Barack Obama in the beginning of the month. This means that June 2008 and June 2012 both represent months where the general election matchup was already known. So, in light of that: Obama outraised Romney directly, to be sure. But Obama outraised Romney significantly less than Obama outraised McCain, and Obama very significantly outspent Romney more than Obama outspent McCain. In fact, Obama’s burn rate in 2012 looks a lot like McCain’s in 2008; which is say, over 100%. More interestingly: Obama in 2012 is under-performing Obama in 2008, while Romney is over-performing McCain.
Taken together? 2012 is not 2008: which would be a commonplace, a truism, or even a cliche… except that it’s pretty clear that Obama was expecting 2012 to be much like 2008. You could tell that from Obama for America’s ridiculous goal of raising a billion dollars for 2012 (by the way: again, I told you so); and you could also tell from what is now in hindsight a rather unsupported, casual arrogance about their ability to beat Romney (and I told you so about that, too). But it’s increasingly obvious that Obama was expecting to be facing another John McCain; and it’s not obvious what, if anything, the Obama for America campaign plans to change in order to deal with the fact that it is increasingly obvious that they are not.
Mind you: I don’t want them to change a thing. Especially the staffing: in fact, they should hire more people at their Chicago HQ. Double the payroll! And they should make sure to poach from all the hardcore liberal organizations; I’m thinking that they should steal all the post-grad interns and make ‘em middle management. It’ll be good training for future election cycles.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*Romney Victory, Inc. reported its numbers quarterly; I have thus divided the total raised and total spent numbers by three to give an extremely rough estimate of how much was raised and spent in June. The final cash on hand number, obviously (and luckily) did not need this kind of rough-and-ready approximation. USA’s reported cash-on-hand for Romney matches mine (they’re rounding down to one decimal point, and I’m rounding off to two), but they reported ten million dollars less raised in June. I don’t really doubt that, but USA Today didn’t show its work, so I don’t know where they got that number from.