The Money Chase, March Update: Secretary of State

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

Last week, we had a new entrant in the race - Republican Rick Dancer. He's not included in this report because he hasn't filed a committee yet (so, presumably, he hasn't raised any money.) We'll include his fundraising totals next month.

Last month, Kate Brown led her nearest competitor, Rick Metsger, by $222k. This month, her lead is up to $244k - in part because Metsger chose to voluntarily limit his fundraising during the legislative session. With a strong fundraising month, Brad Avakian has passed up Vicki Walker - with a total of $115k to Walker's $78k.

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 updated2-29-20082-25-20082-26-20082-26-2008
2007 starting balance$7,575$95,771$40,178$11,678
current total$115,582$368,802$124,206$78,175
cash contributions25448490149
average contribution$415$549$915$441
daily pace (last 90)$910$1,249$788$227
daily pace (last 30)$1,817$1,259$498$156

2008mar1sos

Technical notes on the jump...

We retrieved this data from ORESTAR on March 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.

Comments

  • James (unverified)
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    Nice article but you make no mention of actual cash on hand.

    Looking at Orestar, Kate Brown has a balance of $157,050. She has raised $375,000 and has already spent two thirds of her money. What does she have to show for $218,000 spent?! Where did that money go? Did they buy BMW's and a tour bus?

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    She could have a lot of staffers or just a few really well paid ones.

  • Burk Jo (unverified)
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    Avakian has the smallest average contribution and the fastest pace? Sounds good

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    James... perhaps you should actually read the entire post. I'll copy and paste for you:

    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.

    Looking at cash-on-hand is definitely something that matters, but it's hard to evaluate in a box-score kind of way.

    Maybe Brown has bought an excessive number of snacks for the campaign office (bad) or maybe she's already paying for television ads (good).

    That's stuff that's excellent fodder for research (go ahead, it's all on ORESTAR) but putting the cash-on-hand number in a box score doesn't illuminate anything.

  • James (unverified)
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    Here's where the bulk of Kate's campaign money is going - 26.71% for staff payroll - 17.61% to Perrin Pack for management services - 15.22% to C&E Systems for financial services - 12.48% for General Operational Expenses & Office

    That's more than 72% of her expenditures and those are reoccurring meaning 72% of the money she raises will be going to these general expenditures before she can save any money for mail or media buys. Yikes. Someone needs to learn how to budget.

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    Looking at Orestar, Kate Brown has a balance of $157,050. She has raised $375,000 and has already spent two thirds of her money.

    Yes, but what she has left is more than anyone else has raised (before expenses). I haven't seen any polling on this race, but money is often an imperfect proxy for support. If that's true in this case, it looks like it will be tough for any of the other three to catch her.

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    That's more than 72% of her expenditures and those are reoccurring meaning 72% of the money she raises will be going to these general expenditures

    You just mixed apples and oranges. Those categories may be 72% of her expenditures so far - but that doesn't mean that 72% of all the money she raises goes to those things.

    I should disclose here: My company built Kate Brown's campaign website, but I speak only for myself.

  • Apples and Oranges (unverified)
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    It is relevant that Brown has spent the good majority of the money she has raised.

    It is relevant to point out that she spent it on overhead costs, not voter contact.

    Since there has been no voter contact, no commercials or ads, which mean the mass of voters have not been swayed toward any of the candidates.

    It is then relevant to take a look at cash on hand and the fact that Metsger and Avakian's campaigns are catching up to Brown in terms of money available for voter contact.

    These are all very relevant things that are missing from your “snapshot”.

    The only thing that makes this an "apples and oranges" argument is that you continually avoid talking about cash on hand, real expenditures, not hypothetical ones, and insist that the only relevant indicator to focus on is amount raised.

    I understand this is just a "snapshot", but it seems so incomplete, like a snapshot of the trunk of the tree and we can't tell if it is an apple tree or an orange tree.

  • JHL (unverified)
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    Kari, here's the flaw in your reasoning:

    We assume that campaigns spend money in whatever way they think is most strategically smart.

    You can assume that, but it doesn't make it true. Fact is, campaigns don't run at 100% efficiency. They make different decisions and spend money on different things in different amounts and sometimes make mistakes.

    Does anyone have polling data on this race?

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    OK, Mr. A&O and JHL... I'll play along.

    Having said that cash-on-hand is important, but that it doesn't lend itself to a snapshot that illuminates whether a campaign is strong or weak - I'll put the challenge back on you:

    What data points would you add to the box score above, related to expenditures or cash-on-hand, that tells us whether a campaign is weak or strong?

    And keep in mind that this needs to work early in the race and it needs to work late in the race. The goal is a monthly snapshot that describes trends over time.

    Don't just criticize. Offer a suggestion. Because I've spent hours and hours on this -- and I've given it my best shot.

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    And btw, A&O, this statement you made...

    The only thing that makes this an "apples and oranges" argument is that you continually avoid talking about cash on hand, real expenditures, not hypothetical ones, and insist that the only relevant indicator to focus on is amount raised.

    ...is at odds with reality. I've said repeatedly that cash-on-hand and expenditures are VERY relevant indicators. But that there's no way to boxscore them - without digging into the details.

    For example, here's what I wrote this weekend on one of the other threads:

    Charlie, you're absolutely right. For the campaigns involved, the cash-on-hand is very important. More to the point, campaigns actually look at the individual expenditures. If your opponent is spending money on donuts and bumper stickers, you celebrate. If your opponent is spending money on TV ads, you brace yourself. The point is that simply putting the cash-on-hand in a box score doesn't illuminate anything. You gotta dig deeper and actually look at what people are spending on -- which is WAY beyond the scope of these monthly reports. That said, I'd absolutely LOVE it if someone would do a post now and then on what campaigns are spending their money on - and give us an evaluation on who is being smart and who is being dumb.

    And here's what I wrote last month:

    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. ... 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.

    So, I'm all ears. Got a suggestion for reporting expenditures in a way that tells us which campaign is wasting money and which campaign is kicking ass? Let's hear it.

  • JHL (unverified)
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    Don't just criticize. Offer a suggestion.

    OK. Here's a Register-Guard story about a poll in the Secretary of State race. (To save people the click, it goes: Metsger 14, Brown 12, Walker 9, Avakian 4, Undecided 59)

    Sure, the far majority of the voters are undecided as of yet... but so is the far majority of money yet unspent. So if we're talking handicapping, strong/weak, or spending efficiency, can't we set those points against the money that's been spent already? (I.e: How much money does each campaign have to spend to earn a point in the Riley poll?) And then set THAT efficiency benchmark against cash-on-hand.

    Just a thought, and I know it's imperfect, but I think it at least applys past performance to available resources.

  • Apples and Oranges (unverified)
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    Kari,

    My suggestion is to include cash on hand along with amount raised in your boxes. It is not an either/or argument like you have consistently made it out to be.

    I would agree that cash on hand is not the full story and my point is that amount raised is not the full story either.

    So if you included both money raised and cash on hand, that would be more of a full picture than looking at just one of them and ignoring the other.

  • JHL (unverified)
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    FYI, I don't know if I used OreStar correctly, but it looks to me like since they got into the race, here's what everyone spent:

    Brown: $182,300 (15,191 per Riley Poll point) Avakian: $49,276 (12,139 per Riley poll point) Walker: $36,638 (4,070 per Riley poll point) Metsger: $27,789 (1,985 per Riley poll point)

    ...And cash on hand, with the number of additional points the campaign could theoretically "buy" with that cash.

    Brown: $144,577 (10 more points) Avakian: $58,026 (5 more points) Walker: $31,861 (8 more points) Metsger: $91,287 (46 more points)

    Now, there are a LOT of flaws with this idea. First, it doesn't take incoming cash into account. Second, it doesn't take into account that these results may be signs of campaign strategy -- some campaigns may want to have a strong out-of-the-gate showing while others take a tortoise-steady approach and plan to step it up closer to the election.

    But I hope that this at least adds to the discussion and shows that there are more very-relevant factors floating aroun than just cash raised.

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    A&O --

    Once again, the goal here is to measure campaign strength. Which campaigns are comparatively strong and which ones are comparatively weak?

    <h2>An example to test your suggestion: It's April 1st. Candidate Jones has $150,000 cash-on-hand. Candidate Smith has $50,000 cash-on-hand. Which one is stronger?</h2>
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