The Numbers Game

Campaign disclosures will be filed throughout Georgia today. One of my regular practice areas in Georgia is election law. Here are a few thoughts I have on the numbers.

Let me give you some terminology first that I like to use:

Burn rate: The amount of dollars a campaign is consuming in a set period.

Refuel rate: The amount of dollars a campaign is able to raise to offset the burn rate.

First, major applause to the Governor. Not only has he shown his ability to win as an underdog, he has now shown that he is king of the hill. I do not expect either Cathy Cox or Mark Taylor to top the Governor’s numbers. And while the Dems like to point out now that Perdue beat Barnes with less money (a sure hint they intend to have less money), Barnes was an arrogant horse’s ass and Perdue is not. As Paul Bennecke notes in the comment thread to the post below, Sonny Perdue inherited a dismal fiscal picture and did his best to turn it around and give the teachers a pay raise.

The most interesting numbers are going to come from the Lt Gov’s race on the Republican side. We already know that Cagle raised $625K with +90% from in state — interesting that they are touting that figure. Also, that money is not from Cagle himself.

I actually am looking at different things for Reed and Cagle — some the same. First off, I’m looking at the burn rate for Cagle’s campaign. Cagle has a lot of paid staffers on his campaign already. Additionally, he made a bold move with the keycards in Savannah, but I’m guessing that those keycards cost a bit of money. That said, I’d imagine he flowed the money through his consultant’s firm and, as a result, we really won’t know the total cost. Burn rate for Cagle is important because we know that Ralph Reed is going to have raised more money. Come on, admit, Ralph will have raised more — let’s just accept that fact and move on.

Another aspect to look for in Cagle’s race is where the money came from. Sure, over 90% came from Georgia, but how much came from Atlanta and the surrounding counties. I would venture to say that the majority of it did, which is fine because that is where most of the money is. But, does his campaign have financial legs outside Atlanta? That will be interesting to see. Reed is, after all, championing his grassroots strategy across the state. Right now, I’m more interested in a financial strategy and let’s see what both boys have.

As for Reed, my suspicion is that his burn rate will not be as high as Cagle’s. What I’m interested in from Reed is not just how much money he got in from out of state, but also when he got the money in. I’ve been hearing that D.C. types were hesitant until some Rovian magic was worked. I’ll be interested to verify that claim.

Another thing I want to watch with Reed is fall off in donations. He received lots of promises when he got in and money started flowing. If the money trail has fallen off over the past few months, it may indicate trouble ahead based on the Abramoff scandal. Let’s remember that Cagle could not raise money in the Session, so he had to go out and beat bushes hard after it was over. Raising $625K in that amount of time is a major accomplishment. Was Reed able to raise an equivalent amount of money in the same amount of time? If it took Reed longer, Cagle will be able to compensate for the burn rate with a higher refueling rate. Also, when the scandals broke, did Reed’s money from inside Georgia go up? If so, that is a strong indicator that his people are really committed.

On both disclosures I am very interested in seeing what notable names appear. Who in the DC crowd is giving money to Reed? Who is giving money to both? Are there major contributors to either from outside Georgia? These will all be important things to see.

Lastly, I am very interested to see the diversity of donors on both lists. Did the candidate get most of their money from large donors and/or PACs? Or, did the money come from smaller donors? Smaller donors are a good sign of grassroots commitment and they can be re-harvested later.

Stay tuned. We’ll provide coverage when the reports are released.

One comment

  1. Bull Moose says:

    Bull Moose wonders:

    How much work is Tim Phillips and Century Strategies doing under the table and off the books for Ralph Reed’s campaign? If Ralph’s company provides services to the campaign is that the same as a personal contribution from the candidate or what? Please provide insight.

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