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Eye On Candidates
October 9, 2015

Republican Campaigns Slow to Release Fundraising Totals

Only four out of 15 Republican candidates have released their fundraising totals so far (and one of those looks more like an unauthorized leak). Campaigns usually are quick to get their numbers out – they certainly know roughly what their totals look like within a day or two of the end of the reporting period – suggesting perhaps many of them are simply delaying bad news.

Fundraising totals for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio have come out within the past several hours, as reported by the Associated Press:

Cruz nets $12 million for presidential bid, Rubio $6 million

Ted Cruz raised $12.2 million in the past three months for his Republican presidential bid, about twice what competitor Marco Rubio collected in the same time period.

The new numbers are being circulated by the campaigns ahead of a deadline next week to report fundraising to federal regulators. The quarterly figures mark a practical and symbolic measure of strength for all presidential candidates, but they don't tell the whole story.

Cruz and Rubio both topped Rand Paul, whose presidential campaign said it had pulled in $2.5 million through the end of September. Several candidates struggled to raise money over the summer months, with celebrity real estate mogul Donald Trump commanding attention in what remains a 15-candidate fight for the nomination.

The article notes that while the Cruz campaign provided fundraising totals to the press, the Rubio numbers appear to have come from a donor to Rubio who released the information after attending a confidential briefing in Las Vegas yesterday.

While the Rubio numbers are a decline from the previous three-month reporting period, he is still in strong financial shape with $11 million in cash on hand, according to The Washington Post:

Sen. Marco Rubio raised about $6 million for his presidential campaign in the third quarter of this year and entered the month of October with about $11 million on hand, campaign officials told top donors here Thursday.

Rubio's fundraising was slow through much of the summer, but ticked up considerably in September, and the campaign is on track to have its best fundraising month ever in October, campaign officials said at a donor summit in Las Vegas, according to a source in attendance.

Much of that money in the bank was essentially held over from earlier, however:

Because of his modest take over the summer, Rubio’s campaign was operating at a steep 81 percent burn rate – racing through nearly $4.6 million of the $6 million raised in the third quarter, according to a calculation by The Washington Post.

The Cruz campaign isn’t releasing its cash-on-hand figure at this point, but it did raise more money than any other candidate during the previous quarter and ended it with roughly $8.5 million, so it’s likely to be substantial unless the campaign has been burning funds at a high rate.

Both candidates easily beat Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who is reported to have raised only $2.5 million, but both lagged behind retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and his $20 million haul.

While Carson leads the pack in funds raised (at least among those for whom there are details), his cash on hand is unknown, and it’s possible he has spent a fair amount of what he has brought in. Carson’s fundraising appears to be largely driven by direct mail, which can be an expensive way to bring in money. The Hill previously reported on Carson’s fundraising and “burn rate” (along with that of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders), which is the term used to describe how fast a campaign is spending the money it brings in:

Soliciting small checks via direct mail — and it is small checks that both campaigns have been relying on — can be expensive. Neither campaign has confirmed to The Hill what its "burn rate" is for the third quarter — the rate of spending versus revenue, a key metric monitored by operatives to assess the health of campaigns. 

 Asked whether the Carson campaign had calculated its burn rate, Watts replied via email: "We don’t look at it as burn rate, we look at it as an investment in creating a donor list, which then costs very little to reconnect with in the future.”

 "But, no," he added, "we have not done our report with expenditures as yet."

According to, in the earlier quarter Carson spent about half of the money he brought in, not surprising for a candidate relying heavily on direct mail. Even if he had a higher burn rate in the third quarter, his cash on hand is still likely to be towards the top of the field.

Fundraising numbers for the rest of the candidates are likely to come out over the weekend, and it’s probably not lost on many of them that a three-day weekend is an excellent time to get bad news out. Poor fundraising numbers combined with cratering poll results have driven two candidates out of the race so far, and judging by the slow pace at which fundraising totals are being released by Republican candidates, it’s possible the third quarter report due next Thursday will push a few more out.