A Guide to Cutting Through the Fundraising Talk

A week before the end of the quarter, campaigns begin furiously setting low expectations for themselves while raising the bar for others. Supposedly “internal memos” wiggle their way into reporters’ inboxes, warning against the media’s fixation on how much money has been raised and tamping down expectations. It can be difficult to decipher all the quotes swirling around from campaign aides, so we have compiled a small list. Feel free to contribute some more.

1. If an aide says the campaign “will be thrilled to raise X dollars”, they’ll handily beat the figure. Case in point: Barack Obama’s aides said “they would be thrilled to take $7 million to $12 million [in the first] quarter.” Actual amount: $25.8 million.

2. Similarly, if someone says “it will be a coup to raise Y”, count on a coup. Case in point: A Romney adviser said, “If we do $15 million [in the first quarter], it’ll be a coup.” Actual amount: $23 million.

3. Saying the numbers aren’t important signals poor results ahead.  It accomplishes its goal of lowering expectations, but there’s no chance of spinning a good number as great.  Case in point: McCain strategist John Weaver said, “I worked for a candidate who blew everyone’s socks off in 1995”, referring to Phil Gramm.  “We didn’t get to New Hampshire.”  Actual amount: $12.5 million for the first quarter, behind Romney and Giuliani.

4. The disappointing, never boding well, “We’re in this for the long haul”.  Case in point: John Weaver commented, “We’re in this for the long haul.”  After the lackluster first quarter, finance director Carla Eudy left the campaign

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