Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Money Story: Statewide Version

In case last week’s local money story didn’t satisfy your process story jones, here’s the statewide version of the money story, courtesy of Morris News’ Atlanta Bureau.  

To sum up, Sonny Perdue has lots of bread, Cathy Cox and Mark Taylor are also doing well (although Taylor loaned his campaign a million bucks; more on that in a minute.)  Everybody else is more or less meeting the media’s expectations, but Ralph Reed’s fundraising is looking more and more anemic after a strong start.

Now, back to the Mark Taylor loaning himself a cool mil thing.  It’s nothing new, obviously.  Candidates do it all the time, and if it’s getting down to crunch time, and you need a few thousand more GRPs, it’s probably a good thing to do.

For the purposes of this speculation, you have to stipulate that there is no reason at all why Taylor’s campaign needs that extra million bucks now, as opposed to six months from now.  No one is buying media yet, and Taylor’s campaign is more than solvent enough to pay it’s overhead and expenses as they currently exist.

The last ten years or so, though, candidates have been putting in a healthy infusion of their personal cash just to make their fundraising totals look better on the quarterly reports.  We wonder if this really does any good at all.  Obviously, anyone with the capacity to read (and that does include most of the reporters we know) can see the candidate loan on your filings, and draw their own conclusions.

In fact, far from making your campaign look healthy from a fundraising standpoint, this can actually cause the exact opposite effect, and make it seem that the campaign is struggling on fundraising, even when the campaign is doing just fine.

That’s kind of the case with Taylor here, especially if you look at the totals.  Taylor has $5.4 million, his opponent in the primary, Cathy Cox, has $4 million.  Even without the $1 million loan, Taylor has still raised $400,000 more than Cox.  Granted, if you look at the quarterly totals, the story changes a little bit.  Without the $1 million of his own money, Cox would have outraised Taylor 2 to 1 during the last quarter.

The conventional wisdom among the state’s Democrats is that Cox’s political star is rising quickly, while Taylor’s is – well, not exactly rising at all.  We’d be willing to bet that one of the reasons for Taylor’s infusion of his personal cash is his desire to avoid the “Cox is doing well, while Taylor struggles” story.  

There’s another reason that might explain Taylor’s cash transfusion.  Kicking in a significant bundle of your own money is a signal to your potential donors that you’re serious and in the race to win.  That works with some donors, others see through it.

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