Popular candidates in Iowa can’t count on donations

Rick Santorum is the latest GOP candidate to face the problem of increasing popularity without an increase in political dollars.

Steve Chiotakis: A squeaker in Iowa as voters picked their candidates in caucuses across the state. Mitt Romney bested Rick Santorum by just 8 votes. Each candidate got about 25 percent. Santorum's last minute rise in Iowa came without a large campaign war chest. The former Pennsylvania Senator traveled the state on a shoestring budget. So will his strong showing equate to more money for his campaign?

Here's Marketplace's John Dimsdale.

John Dimsdale: At one time or another, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum surged in popularity in Iowa.  Yet Colby College government professor Tony Corrado says their campaign fundraising remains lackluster at best. 

Tony Corrado: If you really want to raise significant amounts of money you have to show that you can win or that you’re going to be one of the leading contenders. And they haven’t been able to do that.

Fundraising by challengers has been particularly difficult this year. That’s because independent groups called super PACS can raise and spend unlimited cash.

Bill Schneider is a longtime campaign observer.  

Bill Schneider: The super PACs are clearly making it tough because an establishment candidate who is well connected, or who’s seen as a winner, which is Romney’s big advantage -- that candidate can raise tons of money. 

But he says conservative Republicans are still auditioning alternatives to Mitt Romney. Once one or two other candidates show they can win early primaries, he says they’ll start attracting money too.

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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