24 October 2015
A tale of 3 "winning" presidential campaign and 3 "losing" presidential campaigns
If you want to be president, you need to be able to play by the rules of the game -- or hire people who will do so.
Rick Perry, Scott Walker and Rand Paul have already flamed out in large part because they failed to take advantage of the opportunities afforded to them by current campaign finance law. Contrast them to Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, and Bobby Jindal who showed that they might be able to run the federal government -- because they can at least figure out what is legal and what isn't:
The "super PAC" supporting Carly Fiorina's presidential campaign, Carly for America, has been more involved in the day-to-day running of a campaign apparatus than most other candidates' super PACs.
The group has taken care of arranging tables outside events, setting up staging, gathering voter information and taking on other tasks typically handled by a campaign.
Of the $2.2 million Mrs. Fiorina spent last quarter, only about $27,000 was spent on the hosting of events -- venue rental, equipment rental, catering and the like. This amount does not include travel, which the candidate would incur no matter the type of event.
Emphasis mine. If you understand the rules, then the financial constraint of running for president has been removed, because the only thing that a campaign absolutely must pay for is the candidate's travel. That's the way Fiorina set up her campaign from the start.
It looks like a Bobby Jindal campaign stop, but there's something strange afoot.
Believe Again, not Jindal 2016, has rented out an Amvets hall.
Believe Again, not Jindal, kicks off the evening Monday with free T-shirts that read "America did not create religious liberty, religious liberty created America," and a promise that the candidate will talk a lot about this.
Jindal's third-quarter financial report revealed just $261,000 in the bank. The campaign raised $574,438 in that reporting period; it spent $832,214. But Believe Again hauled in close to $4 million, much of it from a mysterious nonprofit called America Next, and it's all being sprayed across Iowa.
And then there's Ben Carson:
Mr. Giles, aged 67, oversaw the development of Mr. Carson's exploratory committee and pre-campaign apparatus earlier this year. It was Mr. Giles who interviewed and hired the campaign’s future staff in Washington in January. But when Mr. Carson officially launched his campaign in May, "he asked me if I would move over out of the campaign and help with the super PACs," Mr. Giles said in an interview.Ben Carson's campaign manager jumped to working for Carson's super PACs and then back to the campaign. Per the article, Giles is personally preparing Ben Carson for the next debate by telling him to copy Marco Rubio.
After waiting the 120 days mandated by the Federal Election Commission — a period that ended in early September -- Mr. Giles quickly reached out to two officials heading up pro-Carson super PACs. Under Mr. Giles' supervision, the two groups are now joining forces -- an arrangement Mr. Giles called "much more beneficial to Ben."
Mr. Giles said he broke off communication with the super PACs last Saturday. At that point Mr. Carson, Mr. Giles said, asked for his help preparing for future debates. He does not have an official role with the campaign.
Ben Carson hasn't always appeared to be prepared to be president when he talks about policy (ie: energy). But at least his campaign cares enough to prepare so they know how to play the game.
Now compare this to some of the odd moves from candidates that have quit like Rick Perry and Scott Walker, as well as those who are quasi-quitting like Rand Paul.
First, Texas's own Rand Paul:
Rand Paul has quasi-dropped out. His Senate colleagues are pushing him to focus on his Senate re-election in Kentucky. At this point, his campaign strategy appears to be hinged on miracle college student turnout in the Iowa caucuses that puts him back on the radar so that he has enough money to keep going.
His presidential campaign dramatically cut back on its spending pace in the third quarter, a POLITICO analysis of federal records shows. Paul spent $2.95 million in July, $982,445 in August, and only $610,648 in September. His "online advertising" budget, for instance, plummeted from $446,000 in July to $0 in September (though Paul’s campaign does owe undated debts for more than $60,000 of online advertising).
It's crazy how much Rand Paul has been wasting on pay per click ads, as you've probably seen if you've wandered anywhere around the internet in 2014 or 2015. They were literally just burning half a million dollars every month as recently as July. And Paul's campaign has been paying for these ads since 2014.
They shouldn't have been wasting as much money on paid online ads as they did. But they definitely shouldn't have been spending hard campaign dollars on it instead of shipping it to a super PAC. Impressive profligacy by Rand Paul's consultants -- but I'm sure they were paid well for it!
Scott Walker dropped out because his fundraising dried up and all his money was in his super PAC:
One of Mr. Walker’s selling points was that he would be an effective steward of the country’s finances. But his campaign filings reveal a bloated payroll and high salaries, with Mr. Walker’s campaign manager, Rick Wiley, on course to make $200,000 for the year.$20 million in his super PAC, but in debt for his campaign. The kids being on the campaign payroll is a small thing, but...it's exactly the type of expense that should not have been incurred with campaign dollars.
There were travel bills and hotel rentals. But there was little in the way of investment in tangible infrastructure in the early voting states.
By the time Mr. Walker dropped out on Sept. 21, in one of the most surprising turns of events of the early 2016 presidential campaign, his payroll had swelled to cover dozens of people, according to a person familiar with his campaign staff. There would have had to be substantial layoffs for Mr. Walker to remain in the race.
Mr. Walker’s sons, Alex and Matthew, also showed up on the payroll, each making just over $4,000 during the course of the campaign.
And then there's this blog's namesake. Politico:
Rick Perry burned through cash at a prolific rate in the final three months of his presidential campaign, from $80,000 in chartered jets and more than $65,000 in "research" in late July.
Perry’s campaign reported paying $200,000 to Abstract Communications, the firm of [Jeff Miller and Rob Johnson], bringing Abstract’s total receipts from the campaign to $591,000 for the year.
$80k in chartered jets? Why was a campaign low on funding possibly chartering jets?
$600k to consultants? I'm sure they were passing some through, but...wow. If they made a penny, then Rick Perry should be calling them up and asking for a refund.
It's hard to make a solid case for any candidate who hires consultants who don't care enough about the campaign to figure out the rules -- and not line their own pockets.
06 October 2015
Is 60% against nobody a resounding victory?
Ross Ramsey had an opinion piece on crowded primaries and runoffs. In general, I felt the piece was quite long on assertion and skint on quantitative support.
However, what I found very surprising was the conclusion:
But falling short can play in favor of the incumbent: Does anybody really think John Cornyn looked weaker after beating seven Republican opponents in 2014?
Quick: can you name any of those seven opponents? OF COURSE NOT.
Ok, maybe you got Steve Stockman. I've met Stockman a couple times, and yet even I had to look him up because all I could remember was "performance art" and Jack Brooks. Yes, I remembered Jack Brooks before Stockman's name. Steve Stockman didn't campaign for Senate. At all. More than a few speculated that he was just getting his congressional campaign out of debt by running for Senate. His Senate campaign was a strange post-modern piece of "performance art" because you couldn't really tell if he was a candidate or not.
There was also the guy in the pickup truck who got some Tea Party support.
John Cornyn got just 61%. When Cornyn faced a bunch of folks no one had ever heard of in 2002, he got almost 80%.
The good thing for Cornyn is that he won a 6 year term, and that's a long time. But if John Cornyn had faced a credible challenger in 2014, he'd probably have lost. Guys like Mike McCaul must be kicking themselves.
03 October 2015
Not linear, but correlated
Noted this today in a Burkablog post on Wendy! Davis (I'm sure Burka loves that his name lives on in a blog he never wanted!)
There are several things I would do differently. When you get into a race of that magnitude – and it was my first experience on a platform of that magnitude – you tend to have to rely on a team of people around you to help shape everything you do, from your day-to-day logistics to your speeches to your priorities and your messaging. And I felt like as the months ticked by, my voice was getting lost.
Campaigns aren't a perfect proxy for governing skills. But if you completely mismanage a gubernatorial campaign, then how can you expect to run the sprawling bureaucracy of the state government? If you can't hire a few good people to run your campaign, then how will you hire good people to run the agencies?
Not to mention her campaign position in favor of open carry, only to flip flop back to being against it as soon as she lost the campaign. No wonder Texans are cynical of their government.
01 October 2015
The Ted Cruz 2016 Texas endorsement list
Take a look at Ted Cruz's endorsements, and it's a pretty amusing mix of true believers and "I sure hope this endorsement saves me from a primary!"
Let's start with the Texas Senate -- no real surprises among those listed here. But where is Dan Patrick? He went from ambushing Cruz to promoting Cruz2016 as the gambit that got him elected lite guv only to . . . be conspicuously absent.
Congress: Does anything in John Culberson's record as a Congressman suggest he'd endorse Ted Cruz? Does he lead fights in Congress? If you don't follow politics, the answer to both questions is no.
TX House: a good deal of these folks are believably Ted Cruz supporters. A few are go-along-to-get-along types whose personal style is quite different from Cruz's but perhaps who are ideologically in sync. It's at least plausible.
But there's a few obvious...ahem, discrepancies: a good example is Debbie Riddle, whose voting record moves progressively left with every session. Or how about John "Implement Obamacare" Zerwas? Those are just the few close to Houston, but I can spot a couple more who fall into a similar category.
At least Sarah Davis, one of the most liberal Republicans in the Texas House, didn't feel the need to pretend to endorse Cruz in order to try to ward off a primary challenger. Cheers to her for avoiding the dishonesty of cynical endorsements.
[Also noteworthy: endorsements aren't easy to get in the crowded field of 2016. Ted Cruz is a sitting senator who is quite popular with the activists in his home state and yet his endorsement list is less than 1/3 of the lege. Look at how many sitting governors and US Senators have endorsed -- it's surprisingly low.]
Full list of Cruz's endorsement below the jump.