Rubio's Burn Rate
The World of Politics in Florida and Tampa Bay.
Friday, July 16, 2010
Marco Rubio's fundraising numbers got everyone's attention. And they were remarkable - I haven't looked down the list at everyone, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that he was the leading fundraiser of any Senate candidate in the country during the last quarter.
It's probably a good thing, because it distracted attention away from his burn rate - spending more than 90% of what he raised.
His campaign was ready for the questions - explaining to Politico that they had to spend $1.3 million on television to defend themselves in April, near the beginning of the cycle, and that they had invested heavily and prudently in staff and infrastructure.
All of which is perfectly valid, but still... $4 million in just three months? Is this Rubio's idea of being "fiscally conservative?"
Ok. That was a low blow. But the fact remains that there is just no excuse for this kind of burn rate. This was the quarter where, if you don't face a contested primary, you stockpile as much cash as you can for fall television. And Rubio did not have a contested primary for most of the quarter. What would he have done if Crist has stayed in the primary? The logic behind the campaign's explanation leads to the conclusion that they would have spend $2.5 million more than they raised, under those circumstances. And when you put it that way, the explanation looks clearly ridiculous.
No. The only conclusion one can reach is that Rubio has got too many consultants and too much staff.
Crist is wisely keeping his dollars and maintaining a tight rein on expenses. Granted, he has the advantage of the governor's bully pulpit to get free media, but he has done exactly what all the smartest campaigns do - saved his cash.
Raising money gets the headlines in summer - but it's cash on hand that actually buys your media for the fall.
More locally, I looked up the numbers for my home district - the tenth congressional.
I saw that Charlie Justice had raised $289,779 and thought to myself, "That's no good - he needs to be raising more like $350,000 - $500,000 this quarter!" Of course, I was misreading the report - he had raised $289,779 for the cycle. He only raised $34,216.99 for the quarter and has $38,447 cash on hand.
Bill Young stepped it up this cycle and raised $222358 for the quarter - stockpiling 3/4 of that for a total of $629,609 cash on hand, giving him a cash on hand advantage of better than 16 to 1.
Defeating Young will, quite simply, take both a well funded field operation and a well funded television advertising campaign. At present, it looks like Justice will have the money to run a bit of cable, but not much more.