Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Q1 Fundraising: Hillary Loses Her Strongest Asset

With the reporting of Q1 fundraising in the race for the presidential nomination, Sen. Hilary Clinton lost her strongest asset: the aura of inevitability. Clinton's campaign has been running on two levels. Up top is a long list of positions, policies, events, experience, networks (hers and his), and, of course, her gender. Beneath it all was one simple, intimidating message: Hilary is unstoppable, so you're better off betting with her than against her. It's that subtextual message that's helped drive her numbers--both polling and fund-raising. She was IBM of the 60's--risky to bet agains

Obama brought excitement, charisma, youth but eventually, he'd be steamrollered by the inevitable Clinton momentum.

That story ended at the midnight boundary between March 31st and April 1st when Q1 fundraising came to an end.

Clinton's campaign announced a very impressive number: $26 million. Far more than anyone had ever raised this early in any presidential campaign.

This morning Obama's campaign announced numbers that trashed Clinton's. As a total, he announced $25 million, which on the face of it is close enough to derail the Clinton engine of inevitability. But behind those numbers, he trounced Clinton. Her money came from 50,000 donors. His money came from 100,000. Oops.

But wait, there's more: Clinton hasn't announced how much of the $26 million is earmarked for the primary, vs the general election, but it's likely that she called on her biggest donors to give to both campaigns so as to front-load her totals and underscore the "can't lose" message. Obama has $23.5 million for the primary, which observers suspect is far more than Clinton.

But wait there's more: If Clinton's donors have maxed out their legal contributions ($2300 for the primary and another $2300 for the general), she won't be able to call on them for Q2. Obama has lots of headroom among his current donor pool and growing momentum to pull in new donors -- including, some of Clinton's, who might be thinking about hedging their bets.

The Phil de Vellis video mashup of Hillary and 1984 was not only resonant, but prophetic. Clinton is still a formidable competitor in this race with a strong network, but she's no longer the inevitable winner. That changes the narrative profoundly.

Mickeleh's Take: Now playing at my inner cineplex: Dialog from Lawrence of Arabia.

Nothing is written.

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