During this presidential election cycle, political reporters everywhere have been devoting a lot of time analyzing the quarterly fundraising figures of each party's presidential candidates. The theory is that the candidate who has the most money is likely to hold an edge in the upcoming elections. While it's been widely reported that Democratic presidential candidates our doing a better job of fundraising than their Republican counterparts, there is another aspect of fundraising that is being overlooked.
If you had to venture a guess, which national party has raised more money: Democrats or Republicans? If you guessed the Republican National Committee, you would be correct. (Hat tip: Rich Galen)
National parties are required to report their fundraising figures on a monthly basis while presidential candidates report quarterly. According to the Federal Election Commission, Republicans raised just about $6.6 million in the month of June while Democrats raised just under $4.2 million in the same period. So Republicans had a good month in June.
But when you look at the total raised so far in this election cycle, the results are even more dramatic: Republicans have raised almost $45 million so far while Democrats have only raised about $28 million. Republicans have more cash on hand: close to $16 million as opposed to just under $5 million for Democrats. So clearly, the RNC has a substantial financial advantage over the DNC.
How do you explain this discrepancy? The Democrats' edge in presidential fundraising seems to be driven by two factors. First, after being out of the White House for almost eight years, Democrats are very motivated to win the Presidential election. Second, the Democratic nominee is likely to be one of three candidates: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards. Most of the money seems to be flowing to these three so it's a safe bet one of them will win the nomination.
On the flip side, the Republicans are motivated to recapture the Congress. Democratic inepititude in passing meaningful legislation has helped fueled the Republican cause. The presidential nomination picture is more unsettled that the Democratic picture and that's having a negative effect on fundraising. Rudy Giuliani remains the frontrunner despite plenty of reasons that Republicans have for not supporting him. Mitt Romney has the social conservative credentials but can't seem to make much headway. John McCain's campaign has imploded as he's gone from frontrunner to also-ran. Meanwhile, many Republicans wait for Fred Thompson to officially get in the race.
Democrats have an advantage in presidential fundraising that may or may not last depending on how the nomination process progresses. But they'll have to work overtime to level the playing field at the national party level. If they can't then they may win the White House but lose the Congress.