Senate Race Fundraising Numbers: A Historical Comparison

Here are are some impressive fundraising numbers: Through the end of Q3 on September 30, the odds-on senate favorite has raised $6,444,926.

The challenger? A comparatively paltry $1,615,165.

Given those numbers, it should be pretty easy to figure out who the eventual winner is going to be, right?


Those numbers are from 2009, the odds-on favorite was sitting Florida Governor Charlie Crist, and the underfunded challenger was then-Speaker of the state House of Representatives Marco Rubio. Of course, that’s Senator Marco Rubio now, since he ended up pantsing Crist so badly the latter dropped out of the Republican primary and ran as an independent …whereupon Rubio kicked his ass.

What happened? The Tea Party happened and Rubio caught fire as a better (and more conservative) candidate. Also, this happened:

After that, Rubio’s fortunes (and fundraising) climbed while Crist’s fell. That’s why this:

Should throw a sense of deep unease into David Dewhurst’s campaign team.

Of course, that’s not the only similarity between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio:

  • Both are the sons of Cuban exiles.
  • Both earned law degrees.
  • Both were involved with conservative Republican politics from an early age.
  • Both were Tea Party favorites.
  • Both have been endorsed by Sen. Jim DeMint.
  • Both have been endorsed by George P. Bush.
  • I’m hardly the first one to make comparisons between Cruz and Rubio. (The Cruz campaign has not been shy about it either.)

    However, there are some differences that will make Cruz’s campaign against Dewhurst more difficult than Rubio’s was against Crist:

  • Dewhurst is more of a squish while Crist had gotten to be a full-blown RINO (no matter how hard others might make the comparison). None of Dewhurst’s disappointments compare to Crist embracing Obama-Pelosi-Reid’s budget-busting, pork-laden Stimulus.
  • Dewhurst is considerably wealthier than Crist ever was.
  • The Florida primary was much later, on August 24, whereas the Texas primary falls on March 6 in 2012.
  • Crist had been in politics since about 1986, whereas Dewhurst wasn’t elected Land Commissioner until 1998.
  • Rubio-Crist was pretty much a two man race, whereas Cruz must also contend with Tom Leppert (and, to a lesser degree, Elizabeth Ames Jones) as high-profile, well-funded candidates.
  • The Cuban-American community is not nearly as influential in Texas as Florida.
  • The chances of Dewhurst dropping out and running as an independent are, I think, pretty close to zero.
  • Still, at this point Dewhurst is running behind where Crist was during the same period, and Cruz is likewise running ahead of where Rubio was. Also, Texas is considerably more conservative than Florida.

    All this is a prelude to saying that Dewhurst’s and Cruz’s Q3 fundraising numbers are interesting, but hardly dispositive. There’s still a lot of race to be run.

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    2 Responses to “Senate Race Fundraising Numbers: A Historical Comparison”

    1. […] Still, even with those caveats, this is great news for Cruz five months out from the primary, as it shows a huge bump from the PPP poll of a month ago, which showed him at 12%. Even if you think the methodology overstates Cruz’s gain by 50%, that would still put him at 22%, a 10% increase in a single month. The poll was conducted 10/12-10/17, so it might show the effect of Cruz’s National Review cover appearance. […]

    2. […] $2.64 million, Mr. Dewhurst has been in the race only since July.” Two points: 1.) Cruz is actually ahead of where Marco Rubio was in at this stage of the 2009-2010 election cycle, and 2.) Cruz’s National Review cover […]

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