Florida Sen. Marco Rubio raised just $6 million in the third Quarter, according to reports of a briefing for donors. The amount is far below expectations for Rubio, who has been rising in many recent polls. The haul is about half what Rubio raised in the second quarter.
His campaign cautioned, however, that Rubio has $11 million in the bank, despite the disappointing amount raised. Even this, however, may signal trouble. It suggests that Rubio spent most of the money he raised over the Summer.
According to the FEC, Marco Rubio ended the second quarter fundraising period with $10 million in the bank. If the $11 million reported by his campaign is accurate, then the $6 million raised over the last three months only added around $1 million to his campaign war chest for the Fall. This would indicate that the campaign spent almost every dollar it raised between July and September.
Rubio hasn’t yet run any television advertising, so the high rate of spending is likely due to building out a national organization. Even a moderate size presidential campaign will burn through around $1 million a month simply keeping the lights on. Rubio’s implied spending rate is consistent with that, but also calls attention to the fact that he needs to begin raising significantly more money if he is going to be competitive buying media in the early voting states.
Over the next several weeks, campaigns will have to being planning, and reserving, ad time in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. The crowded field of candidates and the expected heavy rotation of ads by outside groups puts a premium on campaigns securing their own ad times.
Without a significant boost in fundraising, Rubio’s campaign may have to face some hard choices very quickly. This is especially true given the few fundraising details that have been released by other campaigns.
Last week, immediately after the September 30th deadline, the Ben Carson campaign announced it had raised a massive $20 million in the last quarter. On Thursday, Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign reported it had raised well over $12 million. The only other candidate to report numbers as of Thursday was Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who raised an anemic $2.5 million for the quarter.
Carson’s total was almost double the amount he raised in the Spring. Cruz doubled Rubio’s amount, but also raised more money than the Florida Senator in the 2nd quarter. To date, Cruz has raised just under $30 million for his individual campaign, against around $18 million for Rubio.
The total amount Carson, Cruz and the other candidates have in the bank won’t be known until the full reports are available through the FEC later this week. A great deal of attention will be on Jeb Bush, who has been falling in the polls throughout the Summer.
Still, the fact that Rubio’s fundraising was reported at a meeting of campaign supporters, rather than through the press, is indicative of how disappointing his fundraising was. Rubio’s campaign actually tried to explain away the weak numbers as a result of people being “on vacation.” Somehow, many vacationing Republicans seemed to have found a way to donate to Carson or Cruz, though.
Most pundits gave Rubio high marks for his debate performances and he still enjoys relatively high personal favorability ratings in most polls. With the struggles of the Bush campaign, Rubio has become a favorite for many national figures in the Republican party establishment. These advantages, however, haven’t yet translated to strong support among base voters.
A product can look good on paper and score well in countless focus groups. If no one actually purchases the product, though, all those positives are rather pointless.