Third quarter fundraising totals in CD 2 are disappointing

McSallyThe 2014 midterm election for Congress in Arizona’s CD 2 was one of the closest contested races in the country, won by challenger Martha McSally (R) over incumbent Ron Barber (D) after an automatic recount by just 167 votes.

McSally was aided by a midterm election turnout that was the lowest voter turnout in Arizona since 1998, and 1942 previously.

Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball recently rated Arizona’s CD 2 a “tossup” again in 2016. House 2016: Is It Possible for Republicans to Kick Away Their Majority?

Campaigns are increasingly about who can raise the most money, i.e., the “money primary.” The media villagers love the money primary, it gives them the chance to equate a candidate’s ability to raise money with popular support and likely voters. (There are numerous examples where this rational has not held true).

The 2014 midterm election for Congress in Arizona’s CD 2 was an expensive race. According to OpenSecrets.org, here is what was raised and spent in CD 2 in 2014:

Screenshot from 2015-10-16 15:14:35

Two Democratic challengers have announced that they are running for Congress in CD 2: current state Rep. Victoria Steele (LD 9), and former state Rep. Doctor Matt Heinz. The Democratic challengers have only one quarter of fundraising to report, and their third quarter report was posted at FEC.gov on Thursday.

Screenshot from 2015-10-16 15:25:05Screenshot from 2015-10-16 10:01:10

Doctor Matt Heinz has $174, 967 cash on hand, and Rep. Victoria Steele has a paltry $32,450 cash on hand. This pales by comparison to Rep. McSally, who never stopped raising money after last November’s election. She has $1,668,531 cash on hand.  Of course, The FEC has some questions for Martha McSally about her actual fundraising totals. Her campaign engages in GOP “fuzzy math.”

There are only four quarters of fundraising remaining between October 1, 2015 and October 1, 2016, just weeks before the early ballots will drop. Every election is more expensive than the last, but using the 2014 election as a baseline metric, the Democratic challengers would have to raise $1.1 million in each of the next four quarters to match Martha McSally’s spending in 2014 to be competitive. To describe the anemic fundraising numbers for the Democratic challengers in their third quarter reports as a disappointment is really an understatement.

Martha McSally will have more money available to her in 2016 as part of the RNC’s incumbent protection program (supplemented by an unlimited amount of Super PAC and independent “dark money”). If a Democrat wants to be competitive, they are going to have to do way better than what Democrats have done so far.

I previously posted about a joint meeting of LD 9 and LD 10 Democrats at which Assistant House Minority Leader Rep. Bruce Wheeler (D-LD 10) announced, with Rep. Victoria Steele seated in the back of the room, that “If I do not like the way I see things going by December, I might jump back in this race” for Congress. I cannot imagine that Rep. Wheeler likes what he sees in these third quarter reporting numbers.

December would mean one less quarter of fundraising for Rep. Wheeler. He is going to need one helluva donor list to raise the big bucks he would need to raise in a short period of time to be competitive. That must be one magic donor list he has if he thinks he can raise $4.5 million plus in just three quarters.

2 responses to “Third quarter fundraising totals in CD 2 are disappointing

  1. I’m not a big fan of Lambert Strether at Naked Capitalism, but he has an interesting take here on current DCCC strategy. He mentions Ron Barber.

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/10/corrupt-corporatists-steve-israel-and-debbie-wasserman-schultz-declare-fratricidal-war-against-progressives.html

  2. While the fundraising totals for both Steele and Heinz could be higher, I think that money in politics can be over stated. I am envisioning a scenario where the 2016 Presidential race is between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Both of these have now been considerably ahead in the polls for quite some time now, so I think this is a fairly realistic scenario.
    Another contributor to this website, Captain Arizona, speaks frequently about the importance of Hispanic voter turnout. Arizona would be a much different state politically if there was a higher Hispanic voter turnout. I think that having Donald Trump at the top of the ticket might contribute significantly to Hispanic turnout.
    Ron Barber lost by 167 votes in a midterm election. We know that some Democratic voters mostly vote every 4 years, rather than 2, so Steele or Heinz would start off with a slight advantage. I would also make the case that Ron Barber was a somewhat awkward politician, thrust into the congressional seat by a turn of events. Both Steele and Heinz are much more politically savvy and fluent in retail politics.
    Finally, I personally think most TV political advertising is a waste. There are probably going to be about 10,000 truly independent voters up for grabs in the entire district, so social media and other targeting will be key.
    Black Americans now vote in higher percentages than white Americans. Barack Obama won twice because African American women stood in line for hours in cities like Cleveland, OH and Pittsburgh, PA. Here in Tucson, AZ, it only takes 10 minutes to register to vote online and the ballot comes in the mail. Perhaps a Donald Trump will finally be the catalyst for Hispanic Americans to embrace voting in similar numbers to their African American compatriots.