Dems spend less to raise more

Stacks of hundred dollar bills

TEXT OF STORY

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: The Presidential election is still 16 months away, yet candidates have raised more than $150 million. There are predictions that the eventual nominees will need to raise $500 million a piece to compete and that's a record. It costs a lot of money to raise political donations. John Dimsdale reports from Washington that so far Republican candidates are spending more to raise less than Democrats.

JOHN DIMSDALE: During the first three months of 2007, Republican Senator John McCain's presidential campaign spent nearly $1.5 million on fundraising activities: donor parties and dinners, mailings, websites, consultants. His take during the same period was $13 million.

MASSIE RITSCH: John McCain is spending about 11 cents on the dollar to raise money.

Massie Ritsch at the Center for Responsive Politics compiled the numbers.

RITSCH: That confirms some of the things we've been hearing about his campaign. That he didn't bring in as much money as people thought he would, and that he had a pretty expensive operation to do it. He had a lot of consultants, a lot of holdover from his 2000 and Senate campaigns and that that was weighing him down.

In fact, GOP presidential candidates Romney, Thompson, Brownback, Huckabee and Giuliani all spent a higher percentage of their income on fundraising than Democrats Edwards, Obama, Richardson and Clinton.

All four Democrats spent less than 2.5 cents for each dollar they raised.

Morgan Felchner, the editor of Campaigns and Elections magazine says the difference is due in part to Republican campaigns hanging on to a fundraising technique that in the past has given them an edge.

MORGAN FELCHNER: Republicans are traditionally known for their direct mail fundraising, and they're kind of slow to abandon the tried-and-true method, which is one of the more expensive types of fundraising. Democrats never really did catch up in terms of direct mail. So now the Democrats are kind of filling in the gap with the online fundraising which is definitely cheaper.

And Felchner finds some evidence that the Democrats' message is more in sync with Web surfers. Massie Ritsch says that translates into added costs for Republicans.

RITSCH: If you feel like your target voter is not really on the Internet, you're gonna have to spend a lot more on fundraising, because you've got to print out those envelopes, you've got to print out those letters, put them in the mail and put a stamp on them.

Ritsch expects online fundraising to eventually slash the cost of attracting campaign donations to a fraction of a cent for every dollar raised.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

TEXT OF STORY

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: The Presidential election is still 16 months away, yet candidates have raised more than $150 million. There are predictions that the eventual nominees will need to raise $500 million a piece to compete and that's a record. It costs a lot of money to raise political donations. John Dimsdale reports from Washington that so far Republican candidates are spending more to raise less than Democrats.


JOHN DIMSDALE: During the first three months of 2007, Republican Senator John McCain's presidential campaign spent nearly $1.5 million on fundraising activities: donor parties and dinners, mailings, websites, consultants. His take during the same period was $13 million.
MASSIE RITSCH: John McCain is spending about 11 cents on the dollar to raise money.

Massie Ritsch at the Center for Responsive Politics compiled the numbers.

RITSCH: That confirms some of the things we've been hearing about his campaign. That he didn't bring in as much money as people thought he would, and that he had a pretty expensive operation to do it. He had a lot of consultants, a lot of holdover from his 2000 and Senate campaigns and that that was weighing him down.

In fact, GOP presidential candidates Romney, Thompson, Brownback, Huckabee and Giuliani all spent a higher percentage of their income on fundraising than Democrats Edwards, Obama, Richardson and Clinton.

All four Democrats spent less than 2.5 cents for each dollar they raised.

Morgan Felchner, the editor of Campaigns and Elections magazine says the difference is due in part to Republican campaigns hanging on to a fundraising technique that in the past has given them an edge.

MORGAN FELCHNER: Republicans are traditionally known for their direct mail fundraising, and they're kind of slow to abandon the tried-and-true method, which is one of the more expensive types of fundraising. Democrats never really did catch up in terms of direct mail. So now the Democrats are kind of filling in the gap with the online fundraising which is definitely cheaper.

And Felchner finds some evidence that the Democrats' message is more in sync with Web surfers. Massie Ritsch says that translates into added costs for Republicans.

RITSCH: If you feel like your target voter is not really on the Internet, you're gonna have to spend a lot more on fundraising, because you've got to print out those envelopes, you've got to print out those letters, put them in the mail and put a stamp on them.

Ritsch expects online fundraising to eventually slash the cost of attracting campaign donations to a fraction of a cent for every dollar raised.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

About the author

As head of Marketplace’s Washington, D.C. bureau, John Dimsdale provides insightful commentary on the intersection of government and money for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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