Governor Charlie Crist was recently asked if it was harder raising money as a Democrat than as a Republican. His answer, “… so far, no, it’s been wonderful…”
Even if we gave Governor Crist the benefit of the doubt, between the campaign account and the PC so far in 2014 he is on par with his 2006 performance but only if comparing to the ’06 campaign account by itself. It is unfair though to simply add his PC and campaign money together now and call it even without then taking into account the millions raised by outside groups like the Conservative Values Coalition and Floridians for a Better and Brighter Future in 2005 and then tens of millions of soft dollars Crist later put at the Republican Party in 2006.
Because of this scenario, the only direct comparisons which can be made are the ones between hard money campaign accounts and those tell a very different story. Crist’s 2014 campaign account is radically underperforming his Republican one in 2006. In fact, despite a new maximum contribution limit six times the amount of old one, he is barely keeping pace with Alex Sink’s performance as Democrat in 2010.
In Crist’s first two months as a Republican candidate for Governor in 2005, he raised $3,909,107 from 8,627 donors – an average of $75,175 per day. In the first two months of her 2010 campaign, Sink raised $1,130,500 from 3235 donors – an average $19,161 per day. In November and December of 2013, Crist’s first two months as a Democrat candidate for Governor, his campaign raised $1,262,900 from 5,884 donors – an average of $20,703 per day.
While comparing one campaign to the other is interesting, more indicative of future outcomes are trends and currently they spell trouble for Crist.
Perhaps not coincidentally, the 2014 Crist campaign launched at the same time the new $3,000 max contribution limits went into effect (Nov 2013). During the next two months, $1.1 million was given to Cabinet candidates from $3,000 “max donors” and Crist’s campaign alone accounted for 55% or $573,000 of it (note Gov. Scott’s account wasn’t yet open). It is an impressive statistic at first glimpse but Crist’s performance in this “max donor” metric took a nose dive from $432,000 in November to $141,000 in December.
Max donors are a critical part of Crist’s performance and so far, they account for 53% of all hard money raised. If the campaign’s reliance on these max donors continues, coupled with the downward trend of max contributions, his campaign account could be irrelevant to the finances of the race. Incidentally, of the max hard money donors to Crist, 42% are lawyers or law firms.
What about the Charlie Crist for Florida PC? It raised $2.2 million in November, $733,000 in December and in January has raised just $75,000 through the 16th. Has the bubble burst?
So far, Charlie Crist’s campaign account as Democrat has raised just 29% of the amount his campaign did as a Republican, is averaging $55,000 less per day, and has almost 3,000 less donors. His PC, while coming out of the gate strong in November, stumbled in December and is fully limping in January. So, to the question of whether it is harder for Charlie Crist to raise money as a Democrat than as a Republican, the answer appears to be … yes, so far.