One of the things few people seem to be mentioning when it comes to evaluating the 2012 field on the Republican side is the power of individuals to raise money and spend it wisely, which tends to be the hallmark of well-run campaigns.
The important thing is to understand that all this talk of dark horses and potential candidates is just that–talk–until any of these lesser names prove they can raise money. The power of Sarah Palin’s name is quite significant, of course–but that’s not necessarily the same as the power to gain money from followers who want to give it to you, as opposed to a candidate you’ve endorsed. Given that 2012 is going to easily lap 2008 in expenditures, we should be mindful of this power of the purse.
So please, keep the following numbers in mind. In 2010:
- Thune raised about $750k this cycle.
- Daniels raised about $1.4M.
- Huckabee raised roughly $1.8M.
- Pawlenty raised about $3.3M.
- Palin raised a little more than $3M for SarahPAC in 2010, about $5.4M since ’08.
- Romney raised almost twice as much as Palin, a bit more than $5M. He has raised roughly $8.8M total since the ’08 election.
- Gingrich raised more than $24M for American Solutions 527 in the 2010 cycle, and about $700K for his personal PAC.
- Perry raised nearly $38M, just for his personal campaign, from about 22,000 donors.
- Barbour raised a metric ton of cash — $9M in the first quarter, $19M in the second, and $31M in the third. Ultimately RGA raised more than $50M just this cycle, and could approach $70M if you look at the past 18 months. Haley’s personal PAC raised an additional $1M.
These are based on the numbers publicly available as of early October. Obviously, of all of these, only Perry was on the ballot. You could assign Palin more weight since she obviously did a ton to direct people to give to other candidates, but in terms of her personal cash haul, that’s a much smaller number than you might expect. Gingrich went by the ad strategy instead of donations to candidates, as is his wont, but he was the headliner for virtually all of their fundraising, and American Solutions is really defined as Gingrich, Inc. You could question how much credit is due to Barbour personally, since RGA was just promoting their candidates and he wasn’t the headliner a lot of the time (plus, a lot of money went to them that would’ve gone to the RNC), but still, his operation is incredibly impressive.
Candidates like Huckabee can always overperform their fundraising based on personal appeal and good operations, but that’s the exception which proves the rule–and without question, there is a need for a candidate who can match Obama’s warchest. While you can dither how much Gingrich and Barbour’s success indicates people’s dedication to them vs. dedication to their missions, the point is that Barbour, Perry, and Gingrich have fundraising operations which make their candidacies serious from the get-go if they run, despite any flaws they may have.
Update: It’s worth noting how much it effects your fundraising endeavors if you’re on the ballot and others aren’t. Michele Bachmann raised $13.4 million for her 2010 campaign, which means she raised more than Palin, Romney, Huckabee and Pawlenty combined in 2010, and roughly as much as Palin and Romney combined to raise since the 2008 cycle ended.