The Money Chase, February Update: Secretary of State

Note: This post updated on 2/3/08 to fix a substantial error. We had the 2007 starting balances for Senators Metsger and Walker reversed, which made the campaign totals inaccurate (though the daily pace and average contributions were correct.) Brown and Avakian were correct originally. The box score and chart below is now accurate. Thank you to Senator Metsger for the heads-up.

Here's the latest look at the money chase for the Secretary of State race.

Last month, Kate Brown led her nearest competitor, Rick Metsger, by $222k. This month, her lead is unchanged. In just a month, Rick Metsger grew his funds from $70k to $114k. Brad Avakian's account grew from $45k to $66k. Vicki Walker's totals went up slightly from $65k to $73k.

Fundraising has picked up for all four candidates. Brown's daily pace (over 90 days) is up slightly from $1093/day to $1124/day. Metsger's has jumped dramatically from $303/day to $720/day. Avakian is up from $334/day to $457/day, and Walker is up slightly from $270/day to $303/day.

Here's the box scores and the charts:

 AvakianBrownMetsgerWalker
last updated1-31-20081-31-20081-31-20081-20-2008
2007 starting balance$7,575$95,771$40,178$11,678
current total$66,634$336,624$114,556$72,925
cash contributions14543581130
average contribution$401$539$910$465
daily pace (last 90)$456$1,123$720$302
daily pace (last 30)$701$1,305$1,004$287

2008febsos

Technical notes on the jump...

We retrieved this data from ORESTAR on February 1, 2008. Because campaigns can choose to delay their reporting up to 30 days, some recent data isn't available yet. The "daily pace" is based on the last 30 or 90 days for which we do have data. Our chart starts in July 2007 because most campaigns didn't raise money during the legislative session. The "average contribution" is based on actual cash contributions since January 1, 2007 - while the "current total" includes in-kind contributions, sold items, interest income, and the starting balance. Also, some campaigns lump together under-$100 contributions into a single line item - so the number of contributions may be slightly understated and the average contribution slightly overstated. In order to measure campaign strength, these numbers include the initial cash-on-hand on January 1, 2007 plus all funds raised since then.

Why not look at cash-on-hand? Because it doesn't lend itself to an apples-to-apples view. The goal is to provide a snapshot view that compares the financial strength of the statewide campaigns and legislative caucuses. Does a low cash-on-hand mean that a campaign is failing to raise money? Or does it mean that they're spending money on big-ticket items like polling, direct mail, and television? We assume that campaigns spend money in whatever way they think is most strategically smart. So, looking at the total funds raised since January 1, 2007 (plus the opening balance that day) is the best snapshot of overall financial strength.

And yes, we'll include Republican candidates - if any of them ever decide to run for statewide office in Oregon ever again.

Comments

  • Emily George (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Failure to include cash on hand is really misleading. I know you explain it near the very end in the fine print, but it's a key determinant at this point of who's likely to have the ability to spend money March-May in actual voter contact on tv, radio, mail, etc. I would definitely update your post.

  • Emily George (unverified)
    (Show?)

    As of now (2/2) at 12:23 p.m. The accounts balance (cash on hand minus accounts payables), are

    Kate Brown $134,556 Brad Avakian $21,002 Rick Metsger $87,702 Vicki Walker $38,975

    Of course, not all candidates will have precisely updated their ORESTAR data to the same dates, as they're only required to enter contributions/expenditures within 30 days, so candidates could game the system to put all their contributions in as early as possible, but delay expenditures until the last possible moment, so that they appear stronger than they are.

  • Emily George (unverified)
    (Show?)

    As of now (2/2) at 12:23 p.m. The accounts balance (cash on hand minus accounts payables), are

    Kate Brown $134,556 Brad Avakian $21,002 Rick Metsger $87,702 Vicki Walker $38,975

    Of course, not all candidates will have precisely updated their ORESTAR data to the same dates, as they're only required to enter contributions/expenditures within 30 days, so candidates could game the system to put all their contributions in as early as possible, but delay expenditures until the last possible moment, so that they appear stronger than they are.

  • JHL (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I'd be interested to see an overlay of expenditures. I know it's not apples-to-apples, but obviously none of this fundraising means anything unless the money gets spent! :)

    It'd just be interesting to see who's spending how much and if that tracks with the general vibe. Very non-scientific of course.

    And of course, Emily brings up a good point: cash-on-hand would be very interesting to track over time. I haven't checked her figures, but if she's accurate, it looks like Brown would be the leader, but have a very slow rise... whereas other candidates would be below Brown but with steep increases.

  • (Show?)

    Thanks, Emily and JHL. I think you're right - the expenditure side of the ledger is often where the REALLY interesting stuff is.

    But it doesn't lend itself to a month-to-month box-score approach like we're doing here.

    Let's try an example:

    On March 1, Joe Blow has $100,000 cash-on-hand. Jane Doe has $200,000 cash-on-hand.

    On April 1, Joe Blow now has $150,000 cash-on-hand. Jane Doe has only $50,000 cash-on-hand.

    Question: Which campaign is stronger?

    Answer: It's impossible to know. Maybe Jane has run out of steam, fundraising income has collapsed, and staff costs are eating her alive. Or, maybe Jane raised another $200,000 and spent $350,000 on television production and reserving television time.

    Simply comparing cash-on-hand numbers doesn't tell you anything. You have to actually examine the numbers underneath - and while that's what the individual campaigns are certainly doing (and what hyper-interested political junkies can do via ORESTAR) - that's beyond the scope of a month-to-month box score approach.

  • (Show?)

    Emily's figures in the context of BlueO's make it look as if Kate Brown has been spending a ton of money on something. Does she have a more extensive statewide organization? Is there advertising I haven't seen? Does she have a less efficient fundraising setup (spends more $ per $ coming in)? Is she enriching consultants?

  • (Show?)

    I've been digging into these numbers a bit. There may be something odd with the numbers I've got down for Rick Metsger. I may have his January 1, 2007 starting balance wrong (which is the starting point for all this.)

    I've got it down as $11,678 - but those cash-on-hand numbers (helpfully pointed out by Emily) would seem to imply that it should be something higher than that. (After all, it's hard to imagine how his cash-on-hand could be higher than his contribution total.)

    I've rechecked all my numbers except the 2007 starting balance - since there's (oddly) nowhere to look it up on ORESTAR. I'll call the Elections Division on Monday morning.

  • (Show?)

    Kari:

    Yea, I wish there was a way to look up that information on ORESTAR easily. I think that may be one of the downsides, as that information was easy to find back in the PDF days. It may be an area they need to improve. I hadn't really paid attention to that before until today when I was looking at Macpherson's and Kroger's numbers and realized I couldn't look at last year's account balance info.

    It would be nice to see some info that shows information by the month and by the year, all archived and available online. It wouldn't be that hard to pull together, since everything's already there. It is just a matter of a query that pulls the information together and shows it.

    That would be a great tool for the public to have in ORESTAR.

  • (Show?)

    Correction: Thank you to Senators Metsger and Walker for helping us sort this out.

    I've just updated this post to fix a substantial error.

    We had the 2007 starting balances for Senators Metsger and Walker reversed, which made the campaign totals inaccurate (though the daily pace and average contributions were correct.)

    Brown and Avakian were correct originally.

    The box score and chart is now accurate.

  • (Show?)
    <h2>Oh, and thank you to Emily for raising the questions in the first place that led me to re-examine all the numbers closely.</h2>
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