Hello Everyone,

In the wake of Barack’s astonishing fundraising results for the second quarter, I thought I would try to put them in a larger context. And I want to provide you with some historical perspective on the national polls – which are out of synch with these results. As we all know, neither of these indicators is predictive of the final outcome.

Fundraising

First, I want to thank those of you who have helped make this all possible. Your dollars and participation have greatly enhanced Barack’s prospects in the primaries and caucuses. Here are the first six months’ results, with the 2Q07 numbers being the minimum amounts reported so far by the campaigns. I have rounded down the amounts to simplify the tables. Unlike the media, however, I have included only the dollars available for the primary election. (Edwards 2Q07 number may be high.) The whole fundraising game changes after one candidate secures the nomination. In fact, if a candidate doesn’t win the primary, he/she must return “general election” contributions to donors.

Primary Dollars Only (mm)
1Q07 2Q07 Total
Obama $24 $31 $55
Clinton $20 $21 $41
Edwards $13 $9 $22

Obama’s totals set a new record for non-incumbent candidates in the “off year” – that is, the one prior to the year of the general election. And, only one incumbent has ever topped them.

The number of contributors to Barack’s campaign in the first six months – 258,000 – far out-strips all previous records. This total is more than double his closest competitor’s.

The breadth of this support naturally evokes comparisons to an earlier “grass-roots, internet” phenomenon – Howard Dean – who met an abrupt and ignominious end. Aside from the stark differences in temperament, the actual numerical differences are also striking. During Dean’s first six months, he raised a total of $10 million from about 70,000 donors – a far cry from Barack’s more than $57 million from 258,000 donors.

The polls

The following historical observations about national polls going back to 1979 are adapted from a recent memo from the Obama campaign. As we sit here 16 months ahead of the November 2008 general election, it is worthwhile remembering how ineffective past polls have been in predicting electoral outcomes and how mercurial they can be.

In August 2003, 15 months ahead of the general election – Joe Lieberman led the national polls. In September, Howard Dean led. In October, Wesley Clark led. And in December – 1 month before the Iowa Caucuses – a poll showed John Kerry, the eventual nominee, in 5th place trailing Lieberman and Dick Gephardt, among others.

In August 1979 – 15 months before the general – a poll showed the incumbent and eventual nominee President Carter trailing Senator Ted Kennedy by 36 points.

In November 1991 – 12 months before the general – a poll had Bill Clinton in 3rd place with less than half the support of the then-frontrunner, Jerry Brown. In January 1988 – 10 months before the general – a poll showed Michael Dukakis, the eventual nominee, in 4th place with a 6% showing.

So, I hope this provides some perspective. As we all know, success in fundraising and in early polls are not predictive of success in actually winning delegates. Money is simply a “necessary but not sufficient condition” of politics. And, for that we are grateful.

Pass it on.

Chuck

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