It seems every time you get a political fundraising email, the candidate insists that their most critical finance deadline ever is looming. When you get last-minute pitches for funds from now until Monday, though, they’re probably telling the truth.

Monday, May 14 is the final day of the next fundraising period for Iowa campaigns (non-federal ones, that is). On May 19, every candidate for governor, other statewide offices and state legislature will report what they raised between January 1 and May 14.

As we explained before this year’s earlier fundraising report for everything candidates raised in 2017, Iowa has an odd reporting schedule that makes each one extremely important. We haven’t had any update on fundraising numbers for state candidates – including the gubernatorials – since January 19. That’s made it difficult at times to judge just how certain races are progressing.

And we’ll get just one last report on the candidates’ finances before the primary this upcoming Saturday, May 19 (there’s a supplemental one due four days before the primary, but only if you raise a certain amount – the May 19 is the main one). It’s one of the few instances where we get public, real data about the campaigns that you can use to measure. And yes, fundraising is not the only factor in these races, but it’s a quantifiable thing we can look at; differences in opinions over candidates’ profiles or messaging is just that: opinion.

Some of the statewide campaigns are pretty much locked into their final plan for the primary – more donations will certainly help, but it may not impact the overall public perception of the race too much. Perhaps if one candidate posts a very poor total, supporters will look to other, more viable candidates that they also like.

Where it becomes even more important is for legislative races. And that includes all of the candidates who are not in primaries. Public information is even more sparse for your various state house and senate contests. That’s why the May 19 report will be so important for them (and why, if you really like a local candidate, you should consider donating to them now).

State organizations, PACs, unions, the party and major donors will all look at the fundraising totals for various legislative candidates. None of these groups have enough funds or volunteers to cover every single district that could possibly be competitive. They’ll have to choose a handful in which to compete, and part of their decision will come down to how much money each candidate has raised. For one, because it obviously shows they can afford to get their message out to more voters in the mail, online or on TV. But PACs also don’t want to fund the majority of a candidate’s expenses; they want to be partners in a well-run operation.

The leadership for these organizations will sit down and look at a spreadsheet listing each candidate and their district, and it will have how much each raised in the latest report. Where certain candidates fall on that list may determine how much help they get.

Now, again, that is not the only factor. The makeup of the district, the candidate’s profile, their volunteer bases and the number of doors they’ve knocked make a difference too. There have been candidates who struggled with fundraising who have still ousted incumbents or won open seats. But fundraising is one major measure that contributes to which candidates get more assistance.

There will be another big report on July 19. Then there’s not another until October 19 (see the full schedule here). Many organizations, however, will make their decisions of who to go all-in for by mid-summer.

So, if there’s a candidate out there that you really like, especially those running for the Legislature, now’s one of the best times to donate. Get it in by May 14.

 

by Pat Rynard
Posted 5/12/18

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