Sunday, October 5, 2003

Dean and Clark can scale; can Bush?

This is impressive: in just two weeks, the Clark campaign pulled in $3.5 million, more than 2/3 of which was raised online. Added to Dean’s $5m in the final two weeks and that’s an impressive showing by two “outsiders” in the race.

Let’s put this in perspective: as the quarter ended, the Dean and Clark campaigns combined were on pace to beat President Bush’s fundraising in Q3. ($4.25m per week, 12 weeks in a quarter = $51 million over an entire quarter.) Now this is entirely hypothetical — after all, fundraising surges towards the end of a quarter and isn’t representative of the entire quarter’s giving. Nevertheless, it’s an intriguing take on the two candidates’ totals.

Perhaps most impressive for the Democrats, and most troubling for the Republicans: Dean’s average donation is $80 and Clark’s is just $167. It’s the small dollars that are fueling these campaigns. Those people who give in small amounts can be persuaded to do so again.

Much like the decentralized “open source” movement that the Dean campaign has been modeled on, these two campaigns have proven that their fundraising model is sacalable. The Bush model is much harder to scale — there are only so many $2,000 donors out there.


  1. Not true at all the Bush Presidency has fully welcomed $5 donations. The fact that Bush can pull in $2,000 donations and the Dean campaign can only trickle in $25 from an individual speaks volumes for the Dean Campaign.

    Also I love how you compare 2 campaings earnings against Bush. 2 campaign candidates with their campaign engines against 1 campaign engine is exactly a fair nor realistic comparison.

    It's like if I add 2 mediocre baseball player's batting averages I could get a batting average far better than Alex Rodriguez. But how accurate is that really?

    So desperate are we Rick?

  2. Also to note that a lot of people who are planning on donating money to Bush aren't doing so until the Democrats get 1 candidate. I'm not giving Bush a cent until post-primary season.

    What the Dean campaign should worry about is not 'how much money' they can bring in... But how much respect people have for the Dean Campaign. With the Democratic Voters consistently unable to name a single Democratic Candidate... I find that amusing.

    We have recent poll on the Command Post blogger site which shows that there are 40% of democrats who want a different candidate or who can't name a candidate that is on the current list of candidates.

    Also if Wesley Clark wins and Howard Dean loses, there is no guarantee that all of the democratic candidate's will send their money over to the winner. They may keep instead send it to the DNC or keep it with them in their war chests. Certainly, it is very doubtful to expect that 100% of each other's earnings (Clark and Dean) are going to meld together when a winner is found.

  3. Jeff - You're absolutely right, Bush isn't turning away $5 donations. But the average donation skews quite a bit higher (in Q2, it was north of $1000), while Dean's and Clark's average contribution is $200. What that means is that Dean and Clark can go back to the well - and get (theoretically, anyway) up to 10x the initial contribution from each contributor, while the Bush team must constantly look for new contributors. When I talk about scale, that's what I'm referring to.

    On a separate note, your anology to batting averages misses the mark. It is entirely likely that the vast majority of donors for various candidates will rally behind the Democratic nominee after the primaries (hard for you to believe, I know, but don't forget that there are a few of us who are committed to electing someone to replace Bush, regardless of who ends up on the ticket); my point was to suggest that Dean and Clark are potent fundraisers in their own right and reached a pace at the end of Q3 that would exceed even Bush's admirable fundraising. If the ticket were Dean and Clark (to take one hypothetical), they would both be out fundraising, much like Bush and Cheney do today.