With the deadline for first quarter fundraising having passed, I thought that it was time to not only look at who raised the most money and what it means for their campaigns, but also to ask is early fundraising really that important? The winners of this first quarter are those who met or exceeded expectations. Mitt Romney raised $23 million for his GOP bid, but just as important as the dollars is the idea that Romney now leads the Republican field in something. The Romney campaign needed a boost to get people talking about it in the same breath as Rudy and McCain, and that is exactly what this strong fund raising quarter got them. If nothing else the Romney campaign has proven that they can compete with the leaders as far as fundraising goes, now they just need to translate those dollars into votes.

Rudy Giuliani met his fundraising goal, by raising $15 million, but nothing speaks of his momentum as much as the fact that he raised ten of his fifteen million in the month of March. John McCain struggled to bring in $12.5 million. His small total could be viewed as another symptom of the weakness of his campaign. Social conservative Sam Brownback was only able to raise $2 million, and this can’t be viewed as a good omen for his campaign.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton raised $26 million, but not too far behind her was Barrack Obama who raised $20 million. John Edwards surprised many by raising $14 million, while all of the other Democrats could be considered losers because none of them broke double digits. While Romney was looking for credibility, Hillary was hoping to blow her competition out of the water and cement herself as the clear Democratic frontrunner. Obama and Edwards both raised sizable sums, and I think this shows that there is a strong anti-Clinton faction in the Democratic Party.

Nothing much should be projected from fundraising to a candidate’s prospects for winning the election. All Fundraising numbers prove that some candidates can raise money. The problem for those who are lower in the polls is that they need to raise lots of cash in order to buy advertising so that they can get their message out. If the top candidates can raise the most money, and saturate the airwaves, this has the effect of blotting out the smaller voices. Early fundraising will be critical in the 2008 elections because it looks like February 5, 2008 will be mega primary day, with a dozen or more states including New York, Texas, and California voting. A candidate without the funds to run advertising in all these states is almost destined to fail. Having the most money may not win an election, but it does keep candidates in the game even longer.

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse blog radio 


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