Candidates' Cash Flow Coming Out of Super Tuesday

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Feb. 7, 2008 -- The 33 days between the Iowa caucuses and Super Tuesday had the predicted winnowing effect in both parties. The survivors of the Democratic contest, Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, braced for the final rounds of primaries.

The deciding factor: Clinton and Obama drew such strong support in 2007 that they could raise more than $100 million apiece, setting a new standard for funding, organization and media in presidential campaigns.

The Republican primaries were even more decisive: Two days after Super Tuesday, Arizona Sen. John McCain appeared to become the de facto nominee, as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney suspended his campaign.

Now, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee remain active in the race for the GOP nomination. But they lack the delegates, ground strength or money to challenge McCain.

Candidates file their January financial data at the Federal Election Commission on Feb. 20. Till then, here's an overview of their money outlook:

Candidates Liabilities
Sen. Hillary Clinton. Photo: Getty Images

Sen. Hillary Clinton (NY): The first stunner after Super Tuesday was Clinton's revelation that she lent her campaign $5 million of her own money. After entering the race with a $10-million boost from her Senate campaign, and outraising Barack Obama for a 2007 year-end total of $118 million, her loan of merely $5 million seemed perplexing. Clinton has benefited from several million dollars' worth of independent ads and organizing by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the American Federation of Teachers and EMILY's List.

Donors who gave the maximum legal contribution ($2,300) accounted for about half of Clinton's 2007 money. She can't solicit them again for the primaries. That's a higher percentage than any of the other candidates. Her loan opens the question of further self-funding; Bill and Hillary Clinton report their wealth at around $50 million -- a modest amount by campaign standards. She needs enough cash to finance high-cost showdowns March 4 in Texas and Ohio.

Sen. Barack Obama. Photo: Getty Images

Sen. Barack Obama (IL): Obama raised more primary funds than Clinton in 2007, and more than $1 million a day throughout January. In a day and a half after Super Tuesday, he raised $7.2 million. Obama claims to have an astonishing 650,000 donors, with a big percentage of small-dollar supporters. In the fourth quarter, 47 percent of his money came from givers of $200 or less, contrasted with 15 percent of Clinton's funds. Obama initially had little support from outside groups. But after New Hampshire, the UNITE HERE union (hotel workers and textile workers), locals of the Service Employees International Union and the advocacy group began working independently on his behalf.

Obama's rival, Clinton, started the race with backing from many party regulars, deep-rooted networks in key primary states, and donor lists that had been nurtured over decades. Obama needed extra money to overcome that. His support from outside groups hasn't caught up with hers, and it remains to be seen how much money and support he'll actually draw from the liberal powerhouse

Candidates Liabilities
Ex-Gov. Mike Huckabee. Photo: Getty Images

Ex-Gov. Mike Huckabee (AR): Huckabee's fourth-quarter receipts ($6.6 million) nearly matched McCain's receipts ($6.8 million). After winning four Southern states and West Virginia on Super Tuesday, he set a modest fundraising goal of $1 million by the Feb. 12 primaries.

A strong fourth quarter and a win in Iowa's GOP caucus failed to ignite Huckabee's fundraising. The year-end money surge accounted for more than 70 percent of his 2007 receipts. Despite his strong regional showing Feb. 5, he seems to be approaching the limits of his support from voters and donors.

Sen. John McCain. Photo: Getty Images

Sen. John McCain (AZ): Front-runner status may heal McCain's financial problems, as the party's moneyed regulars -- if not the conservative activists -- fall into line. Meanwhile, his back-from-the-dead campaign shows that big money doesn't always get the last word. Overall, McCain spent $38 million in 2007, compared with $86 million spent by Romney and $20 million by Huckabee. Like the other Republicans, he has gotten no significant support, or opposition, from independent groups.

McCain finished 2007 in the hole, with $2.9 million on hand (including both primary-season and general-election dollars), but $4.5 million in debt. His campaign scraped by on a line of credit, which was secured largely with McCain's fundraising lists as collateral. As is normal with such loans, McCain, age 71, had to take out extra life insurance, because the fundraising lists would lose value without him.

Rep. Ron Paul. Photo: Getty Images

Rep. Ron Paul (TX): Paul is a fundraising titan. In the fourth quarter, Paul outraised every other Republican, and he's by far the least dependent on big donors. He finished the year with $7.8 million on hand -- more than any other GOP hopeful -- and no debt.

Paul is discovering, as various self-financing congressional candidates did in the 1990s, that winning requires more than money. He hasn't yet converted his cash into an organization that can win a primary, and observers are wondering what he's doing with all that cash.

Sources: Data from Federal Election Commission; analysis of donors by the Campaign Finance Institute