Traditional Media’s Take On Q3 Fundraising Misses The Story

Posted in Money In Politics, US Senate Race, Election 2008, 2008 Primary, Around The State at 1:00 pm by wcnews

The traditional media’s take on Rick Noriega’s fundraising in the quarter that ended Sunday has been predictable W. and R. G. give us the theme. Never mind, it would seem, that Noriega’s goal was not to raise as much or more money than Watts, but to show that he can raise significant money. And by showing that ability it will allay any fears regarding fund raising and, as well, take that argument away from his detractors. That was the campaigns goal and the goal was accomplished. That’s the story the traditional media didn’t cover yesterday.

The traditional media has set an impossible and unattainable goal for the Noriega campaign, match Watts’ money, and seems intent on driving that home at every opportunity. Hopefully now that the quarter is over, and Noriega has shown what he can do, they’ll start concentrating on the issues. That’s probably not going to happen but that’s why blogs have become what they are, so keep coming around.

The focus on how much the candidates are raising should be discussed in along with the considerable difference in how Noriega and Watts raise their money, via Stop Cornyn:

Yesterday Rick Noriega’s exploratory campaign announced he had raised an impressive $570,000. Close to $159,000 of that was raised online from nearly 1,100 individual donations, which is an average donation of $145. These people will donate again.

In the second quarter, the Watts exploratory campaign raised nearly $1.1 million online from 800 donors, with an average donation of $1,345. This quarters fundraising numbers are still being processed as I write this, and the campaign has only given a brief statement attesting to Watts’ track record of being able to raise and produce money. Watts’ third quarter numbers will be interesting because his individual donors are already close to hitting the donation cap.

Comparing the two campaigns, it is clear Watts has a money advantage, but Noriega has proven he can raise money in one of the hardest quarters to raise funds. These numbers also solidify the two reputations—Watts is institutional with big money support and Noriega is a grassroots candidate with political support.

Noriega is getting his money from the people and not just the powerful. There’s also a post from the Observer, Noriega ‘On Target’; Watts’ Wallet Bursts. Which brings up a little history regarding “big money candidates” and their inability to win elections in Texas in the recent past.

Money sure helps but it ain’t everything. One should keep in mind the lesson of Tony Sanchez (and of countless candidates like him). If the mighty dollar was the only trump card in politics, Sanchez and his personal fortune would have beaten Rick Perry for Texas governor back in 2002 — instead of leading a whole squadron of Democratic candidates off a cliff. Republican Ben Bentzin is another example of a guy whose money just couldn’t get him elected, either in 2002 against Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos or in 2006 against Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin).

But as far and the traditional media is concerned, all they care about is the money race. Money is important but they’d be better off putting the fundraising into context instead of using misleading headlines - Spinning gold, Noriega finds bright side, and Noriega’s funds far behind rival Watts’ in Senate race. There’s no way Noriega can compete with Watts’ personal fortune and W. and R.G. are well aware of that.

Noreiga’s fundraising will come from less traditional, insider, machine/party boss driven type of fundraising. While, of course, those people are more than welcome to donate, we’ll assume, it won’t be just those donors financially backing his campaign. Noriega appeals to as wide swath of supporters from all over the state that want to see fundamental change in the leadership of this state.

(A quick note. One thing I made a mental note of when reading the Texas Observer piece on Ralph Yarborough was the fact that the office where the Republicans in Texas were able to start winning was a US Senate race. Against an incumbent who had purportedly veered too far out of the mainstream with what the public wanted. Sounds like John Cornyn to me.)

While the traditional media will continue to focus on the money, and leave out the fact that big money candidates often lose, keep checking in on the blogs where the issues in this campaign will be discussed in detail.

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