Tags: party | donations | sink

Contributions to Political Committees Plunge

Friday, 27 Mar 2009 11:32 AM

By Dave Eberhart

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Donations from individuals to the six major party campaign committees dropped by more than 26 percent from two years ago, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission obtained by the Washington Post.

The DNC raised only about $3.3 million last month, with the Republican National Committee taking in just over $5 million, said a CNN report.

However, with campaign cash left over from Obama’s presidential coffers, the DNC was able to post $5.4 million in total contributions last month – pulling just ahead of the RNC. As to cash in the bank – the DNC’s $8.5 million is well behind the RNC’s $24 million.

Strategists have pointed to “donor fatigue” as one of the causes of the recent downturn, but they also are factoring in the deflated economy – noting that if recovery is not apparent by early next year, budgets for the 2010 campaign may have to be throttled back, according to the Post report.

Meanwhile, the Dems are looking to President Barack Obama as their new fundraiser-in-chief. This week he was the big draw at two events in the nation’s capital for the Democratic National Committee, according to CNN.

As a candidate for the White House, Obama shattered fundraising records, hauling in nearly $750 million during his two-year campaign for the job as the nation’s chief executive.

Feeling the Pain

“People are feeling it,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “This is something that hits all sides. It’s based on people’s economic situations.”

Even online giving is taking a hit, reported the Post.

Although Democrats suggested that online solicitations are still healthy, with more people giving to the DCCC and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee than in 2007, the donors are giving $50 instead of $100, or $500 instead of $1,000.

The Post report noted that fundraising usually takes a hit after presidential or midterm congressional elections – with party committees preoccupied with a restructuring of leadership and staff.

But this year’s slump has been dramatic and unique.

At the DNC, donations from individuals are down by a third for the first months of 2009 compared with the same period in 2007, while the RNC has seen individual contributions halved from early 2007, the Post reported.

DNC chairman Tim Kaine, this week, said he wasn’t impressed with the falling donations figures, according to CNN. He noted that the disappointing February cash intake was partially owing to a Virginia law that prohibits officials from raising money during the state’s legislative session.

“Fundraising stories don’t interest me that much,” Kaine told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “I was unable to raise any money in February, by law. That is the reason that the numbers aren’t going to be what they’re going to be in future months.”

But at least one other veteran fundraiser is not so sure that the donation downturn is a temporary blip.

“People who would traditionally write a larger check this early in the cycle aren’t feeling as flush as they were a year ago,” Jay Dunn, a Democratic, told the Post. “People are helping, but not at the levels they have a year ago or two or four years ago.”

Burst Bubbles

One anonymous fundraiser told the Post that “the largest Republican donors” tend to be real estate developers, who have had to considerably tighten their belts and cut bck on party donations since the housing bust.

A burst bubble of another sort is hitting the Democrats, according to the Post.

The east coast financial sector has given generously to the party in recent years. But House and Senate Democrats have been of late lambasting banks and financial institutions, including deriding bonuses paid by firms that had received TARP largesse.

Between the banking collapse and Democratic efforts to penalize industry executives, this formerly dependable source of donations is gone, a senior party strategist told the Post.

Even some bright moments seem to have a dark side.

The National Republican Congressional Committee launched its annual spring gala this week in Washington. The event, featuring GOP star Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, was touted as raising $6 million.

NRCC officials pointed out that the haul surpassed their goal of $5 million. What was left unsaid was that the goal was set $1 million lower than two years ago.

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