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Campaign fundraising faces a new economic landscape

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HOBSON: Now to the field of Republicans who would like to take President Obama’s job. Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty will officially announce his candidacy today in Iowa. But the fundraising picture — just like the economy — will look a pretty different compared with 2008.

For more, let’s bring in Larry Sabato, who directs the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. He’s with us live, good morning.

LARRY SABATO: Good morning.

HOBSON: Last time around, we were in an economic boom for much of the presidential campaign. How different do you think the money race will be this time around?

SABATO: Well, it’s already obvious that the eventual republican nominee is going to raise a great deal less than say, even, John McCain did in 2008. And certainly much, much less than the $1 billion that President Obama’s expected to bring in.

HOBSON: Will the places that they go for that money be different this time around?

SABATO: My guess is because of the economic dislocation, probably candidates on both sides actually are going to rely a lot less on small donors, and a lot more on the people who can give big money. Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, they’ve been much less affected by the economy than have the small donors.

HOBSON: Now, even as the list of candidates on the republican side has sort of firmed up in the last couple of weeks, a lot of people are talking about maybe there’ll be a late entry into the race several months from now — perhaps a New Jersey governor Chris Christie or someone like that. Would they be able to raise enough money that late in the game?

SABATO: If it’s somebody like Chris Christie the answer’s probably yes. That is — one would assume — the republican base would be energized, and part of that energizing element will involve fundraising. If it’s someone who’s lesser known or doesn’t excite the base, the probably not. And that will be a significant differential between republicans and democrats.

HOBSON: Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, thanks for joining us.

SABATO: Thank you.

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