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Breaking it down: The 1/31 Gubernatorial Fundraising Numbers

If there is one takeaway from the newly released fundraising numbers in the Ohio gubernatorial race, it is this: In the last six months of 2009, John Kasich raised $1.75 million more than Ted Strickland. If Kasich and Strickland show similar results over the next six months, both campaigns will have virtually identical cash-on-hand numbers.

In other words, Kasich has ripped fundraising momentum from Strickland’s grasp.

I’ll say it once. And just once.

I told you so.

First, from one of my first posts on the Ohio Guv race almost one year ago:

…much of the fundraising battle is about establishing commitments from your big money donors and organizing a finance committee dedicated to helping to raise dollars. Recharge Ohio undoubtedly has prepared this network and will be ready to fully utilize its capabilities immediately upon announcing.

After the first report was released in July:

It’s simply intellectually dishonest to consider Strickland as being a more successful fundraiser when you take into account that he raised a full $100,000 less per month than Kasich, despite his 40 trips outside of Ohio for fundraisers.

But ultimately, I said these four factors would improve Kasich’s fundraising from his initial report and damage Ted Strickland’s ability to raise money.

  1. In June, poll numbers still had Strickland with a massive lead. It wasn’t until July 3rd, after the finance deadline, that the Quinnipiac poll came out showing Kasich quicky closing the gap to within the margin of error. Needless to say, it’s much easier to raise money when people think you have a serious shot to win.
  2. Since the deadline we’ve seen a consistent theme in the MSM of targeting Ohio as the state to watch and the one the GOP must win in 2010 election. This means more of a focus and an increased effort at the national level to make sure Republicans are competitive. And that means money.
  3. Fundraisers. Kasich is actually going to have some.
  4. Finally, the high quality of very electable statewide GOP candidates makes it much more difficult for the Ohio Democratic Party to spend the kind of money they want to on Strickland. In order to maintain the apportionment board they’ll need to focus elsewhere.

But enough with the I Told You So’s.

Let’s get to the dirty details.

Late this afternoon, on a Friday(i.e., when campaigns release information they want to have minimally covered by the press), Governor Strickland’s re-election campaign released their fundraising totals for the last six months of 2009 and due before the January 31st deadline.

If you’ll recall from my fundraising prediction post in early January, this was my bet:

So what about Jello Ted? Despite his plummeting numbers, you have to assume an incumbent governor is going to improve his numbers. I’m going to guess conservative and bet Strickland improves his fundraising by 20%, coming in at $3 million raised.

The reality?

Total Raised: $2.8 million
Total Cash-on-hand: $6.17 million

If you’ll recall what I said back in July, the easiest way to gauge fundraising ability is how much each candidate pulled in per month.

At the last reporting period, Strickland was raising $416,000 per month.

And now? Strickland is up to a mere $466,000 a month. An improvement of only 12%.

For comparison, Kasich raised $467,000 last June, his first full month in the race. In other words, Kasich was raising more per month in his first month in the race than Strickland has averaged the entire 2nd half of 2009.

And now, Kasich is up to a whopping $758,333 a month. An improvement of 62%.

What else is 62%?

That’s how much more John Kasich raised than Ted Strickland in the last 6 months of the race.

Now, if there is any “bad news” in this race, it’s that Strickland still has a $2.1 million cash-on-hand advantage.

However, if Kasich continues to outraise Strickland at a rate of nearly 3:2, at the end of the day Strickland may be the low man on the fundraising totem poll.

That’s almost too amazing to even consider happening. An incumbent Governor has every advantage in the world. A challenger coming in and absolutely obliterating an incumbent over the course six months nearly a year out from the election simply should not happen.

And yet, it did.

A few more random thoughts:

  • This is the second major campaign announcement since Lis Smith came on as Strickland’s communications director. It’s also the second campaign announcement that Smith has used the news cycle to bury; the first being the re-election event/LG announcement. It says a lot that the first two major news stories of the Strickland campaign need to be strategically hidden from major media coverage.
  • It’s common knowledge that the Ohio Democratic Party has essentially been carrying a large chunk of Strickland’s campaign expenses, thereby enabling his campaign to inflate their cash-on-hand number. Meanwhile, the Kasich campaign has been using their own funds to pay for campaign operations. How much longer can the ODP float their incumbent Governor?
  • There isn’t a more significant datapoint that signifies how a race is trending than fundraising. If contributors are giving, they think you’re going to win. If they aren’t giving as much, things aren’t looking that good. The budget fiasco and polling numbers have severely damaged the Governor’s ability to fundraise. Meanwhile, Kasich has received glowing coverage and has become a symbol of the 2010 Republican Revolution.

Ultimately, this is a very good day for the Kasich campaign.

More reactions to come as other numbers arrive…

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Third Base Politics is an Ohio-centric conservative blog that has been featured at Hot Air, National Review, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and others.


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