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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

How 2008 Explains the Slow Start to 2012

At AP, Philip Elliott writes:

"It's a little sluggish. The major donor folks are sitting back a bit," said Rob Bickhart, a former Republican National Committee finance chairman helping ex-Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

"The major donor folks, I think, are a little slower getting started because the whole process was slower to get started," said Bickhart, who helped raise money for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney four years ago. "The last one started, it seemed, after World War I and folks were just exhausted."


All-but-certain candidates Romney and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty have lined up pieces of their fundraising teams; others are moving more slowly. None is eager to start spending cash.

They remember what happened in 2008.

Arizona Sen. John McCain spent heavily in the early days of his campaign and then went into the summer broke, relying on volunteers to shuttle him from town hall to town hall. It limited what his advisers could plan and resulted in a strategy overhaul, returning to a grassroots-focused effort that ultimately won him the nomination.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee wasn't so lucky. He won the Iowa caucuses but was cash poor. Poised to harness that momentum, he found himself on the phone with supporters, asking for money instead of talking with voters.

That has left him skittish about jumping into the 2012 campaign and starting to spend. Instead, he's looking at a delayed entry, perhaps as late as fall.

"If you can concentrate it to fewer months, you have more money to air campaign ads and less money spent on overhead and office space," Huckabee said.