Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Ray Meier and the Meaning of the Money

Why is it important to pay attention to the amount of money that the candidates for New York's 24th District race are able to raise? Is it because the candidates will use that money to buy voter support, regardless of their worth? Or, is it because the amount of money that candidates raise to support their campaign spending is some kind of indication of the amount of support that the candidates have among voters?

Consider the following graph, which shows the spindly-legged, top-heavy structure of donations to Republican Ray Meier's campaign. Almost all of Ray Meier's donations were larger than the working people of the 24th District could afford to make. The chart shows the number of donations Ray Meier received, sorted according to the amount of the donation.

raymond meier ray fundraising for congress

How does the out-of-balance fundraising structure of the Ray Meier campaign compare to those of the Democratic campaigns?

Ray Meier's campaign has brought in $162,275 in individual contributions, but he got that money from only 105 donors.

The Michael Arcuri for Congress campaign has brought in $174,257 in individual contributions from many more donors than Ray Meier: 192.

Les Roberts has convinced more individual donors to contribute to his campaign for Congress than either Michael Arcuri or Ray Meier, though the gross amount of money he has received is less than what Arcuri or Meier have brought in. Roberts has beought in $145,848.35 in individual contributions, but got that amount from 214 different people.

What does each donation dollar mean for these three campaigns?

- Ray Meier has 6 supporters per $10,000
- Michael Arcuri has 11 supporters per $10,000.
- Les Roberts has 15 supporters per $10,000

If you believe that victory in a political campaign is bought, not earned, then you should disregard these numbers. If you believe, however, that the power of campaign fundraising is best understood as a reflection of the support that a candidate has among voters, then you should use these numbers to weight the raw fundraising numbers accordingly.

Let's draw up a formula that could be used to create such a weighting system:

Raw amount of individual contributions x # of supporters per $10,000 / 10

What kind of result do we get in such a weighted system?

Ray Meier's weighted fundraising: $97,365
Michael Arcuri's weighted fundraising: $191,682.70
Les Roberts's weighted fundraising: $218,772.53


Anonymous said...

Great asssessment. The problem is you don't pay bills with weighted formulas. You want to know where Meier will get his money? Check out where Boehlert got his. It's a club you know.

24 Independent said...

Ah. But is the election for sale?

Anonymous said...

You and I both know that you cannot win an election depending on press. You have to get yourself and your message out there using paid mechanisms. So if that's what you call "for sale" then so be it. But it's the truth nonetheless. Try running for office and having some underground group plaster a lying, but very cleverly convincing, TV commercial about you all over the area your election covers. Then try not responding with the truth because you don't have the money, and see how well that works out for you.

Silence Dogood said...

Of those individual donors could you please tell us how many live in this Congressional District?

Ex. ( not actual #'s)

Roberts - 214 donors
CD 24 residents - 10 donors
$ raised locally - $6800

Arcuri - 192
CD 24 Residents - 180
$ raised locally - $164,000

Mike Arcuri has convinced a much larger number of CD 24 voters to contribute money.
The Arcuri campaign is much farther ahead in contributions by people who actually live in and vote in the district.

thingwarbler said...

silence dogood,

your point re. local funds vs. outside funds is certainly well taken, but just to be clear: if, as you appear to indicate, your example is completely fictional ("not actual #'s" -- i.e. you haven't actually run the numbers) then how do you proceed to make the sweeping conclusion that Arcuri has, in fact, done x, y, or z?

I mean, if you don't have the data to do so, on what are you then basing your conclusion? If you have in fact run numbers that allow you to conclude anything about Arcuri's in-district fundraising vs. his opponents, then please do share -- but throwing out a made-up set of numbers and then drawing what appears to be a factual conclusion is bogus.

Anonymous said...

I'll not just eat my hat, I'll eat my dog if Mike Arcuri can raise a million and a half bucks inside this district. As I've said, very few people in this district have been involved in a previous congressional campaign much less a successful congressional campaign. This is the big leagues and there are too many folks here who never got involved in a race bigger than a county DA.

A successful Democrat will need major Albany, New York City and Washington DC fundraisers at least.

I'm still waiting for the big name DCCC trained campaign manager for Arcuri. I can clue you in that it's going to be hard to find a guy like that if the candidate is not going to run on a full time basis.

Anonymous said...

Do the numbers yourself if you don't like Dogwood's. The thesis is valid.

maimun said...

I don't know if Silence mined the numbers, but I did for Michael Arcuri and Les Roberts. Below is a part of my entry from April 20th.

"Arcuri for Congress Committee contributions from individuals:
96% came from inside the NY 24th Congressional District.
4% came from outside the NY 24th Congressional District. (raw number:11 donors)
*Of the 4%, about a third are from people who I assume are friends or family members who live else where.
*Only 2 donors were from outside New York State, both I assume to have family ties.
*Three other donors are from the NYC area.

Friends of Les Roberts Committee contributions from individuals:
6% came from inside the NY 24th Congressional District. (raw number: 11 donors)
*60% of the inside district donation was from the candidate himself
*One of the inside district donors has stated that the only reason he donated was because the candidate had a web site up early enough
94% came from outside the NY 24th Congressional District
*Donations were made from the following states: Virginia, Maryland, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Washington, Hawaii, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Kentucky, Illinois, Texas, California, Vermont, North Carolina, Colorado, and the District of Columbia

The difference between 4% and 6% is obvious. It just depends on who's investing in OUR representation. I can (OK, I have to) live with money from people who don't call this place "HOME" making a difference in who will be representing us. But I still want to know why so many people who don't call the NY24th "home" want Roberts to represent us. But now I also want to know just who are all these people who think they know what's better FOR US?"

Silence Dogood said...

Thank you Maimun for answering my little query.

Smallus Packagus has said that Maimun has opened a can of worms for the People's Candidate, Mike Arcuri by bringing up the issue of outside $ in the campaign.
I disagree.
Outside money in this race is a given. This just shows that Mr. Arcuri's grassroots campaign is a success. The financial contributions by everyday Democrats that LIVE AND VOTE in CD24 is the evidence.

Anonymous said...

12:25 am - let's do a different analysis. How much of Mr. Arcuri's money is raised in each of the 11 counties that comprise the 24th CD? I'd suggest most of it is concentrated in Oneida County where Mr. Arcuri's friends, family and business associates generally reside.

I'd say that most of Mr. Roberts friends, family and business associates reside outside the 24th CD so that is where his ititial money came from.

Nothing wrong with either one of those.

What is a real problem are these two things.

One, can either candidate actually get any substantial contributions from the many counties in the 24th? Have either of them started by getting substantial contributions from any of the County Democratic Chairmen? From the County Committee members? From deep pocketed contributors in other counties? Can they?

Second, a successful campaign must raise substantial money from outside this district. If this race will have an impact on national politics by turning over Congressional control to the Democrates, the stakes will be huge, the money the Republicans raise will be huge and the money the Democrats need to raise must be huge to be successful. Can either candidate appeal to donors in Albany, New York City, Washington, Los Angeles and elsewhere? Since I doubt that donors in the many small counties will give huge bucks (I'd be surprised to see anyone raise $20,000 in Cayuga County for example), the outside money needs to amount perhaps a half million dollars. Is either candidate capable of that? Do they have the time to do that?

Democratic challengers to Republican incumbents in the 25th and 29th have raised more money than the Democrats in this open race have raised. I am deeply skeptical that either of the two remaining Democrats in this race really understand how big a challenge it is.

Anonymous said...

Maimun's analysis is inaccurate, as it only takes into account first quarter filings; the end of year filing data is also relevant.

Anonymous said...

It's kind of hard to discuss End Year filing at this point, hey? Would this mean that nothing filed till then is relevant to anybody? If so, we can call the psychic hotline or something.

Anonymous said...

No, 11:26 - end of LAST year. Get it?

Remember? When Arcuri was sitting on his hands doing much of anything?

Anonymous said...

Last year? And why would you bother questioning last year since the race is this year? Was Ray Meier accepting donations to run last year? End of last year for any of these candidates in this race would be pennies and totally unrelevant unless somebody wants to include donations from Mom and Uncle Joe. Mike Arcuri doesn't sit on his hands. He's just sensible enough to know when an actual relevant campaign season starts. In Utica there is a guy who is running for mayor in 2007. He has bumper stickers already. It's a huge joke. Is that what you think makes a good candidate? Furthermore, why is the focus of when Arcuri or anybody else who is not your candidate decided to start raising funds so important to you. It would be their decision and their strategy, not yours or mine. It is a sign of nothing. And exactly how do YOU know if Mike was sitting on his hands, and if this is so relevant, well then you should be happy because obviously it's a huge indicator. Of what I am not sure.

Anonymous said...

12:21 - excuses, excuses, excuses.

Mike Arcuri's decision to not actively start his campaign until it was apparent Boehlert was getting out means a late start. Fundraising is below neighboring CDs where there are strong Republican incumbents. Arcuri's apparent decisiont to run part-time will be fatal to his chances in November even if he can survive a primary.

These are the big leagues. If Arcuri really has it in him to win, he'll quit the DA post and run full time. I think that is what it will take to get a quality national level campaign manager.

Every day that goes by without a qualified manager, without raising another five grand, without making a half dozen stops, without a news media interview is another day less to get it done. Time is your enemy in a Congressional race and you don't even know it.

Anonymous said...

arcuri was in the race three months before boehlert dropped out of the race, get your facts straight

Anonymous said...

I don't need you to get my facts straight for me. I am not at the Principal's office. I am fully aware of when Arcuri ANNOUNCED he was running. He did not campaign and that was his strategic choice. Obviously his plans were to campaign once there was a race. For all we know he deduced that Boehlert was not going to run and therefore it is not exactly intelligent to spend money against an opponent you won't have, hey? For one thing, it wasn't hard to figure out Boehlert was going to bail what with the Walter Rich scandal. Let's not even get into the money he took from Abramoff.

Anonymous said...

You still don't get how a congressional campaign gets run. There are two things you do early. One is raise money. The second is find workers who will gather signatures on petitions for you.

Money raising should start no later than the day after the preceding election. Mike Arcuri should have started raising money months before he did since he was a registered candidate for quite a while before he began fundraising.

Second, you need to get out to the meetings of the County Committees in the 11 counties to meet folks and get them really interested in circulating petitions for you. If you are going to rely on the uninspired country committees full of names of folks who do no work, you might find you don't get on the ballot.

Arcuri got a poor start because he was being advised by people with no experience in this level of race. That's why his campaign manager is planning on bowing out. Apparently the DCCC finally got him to understand he wasn't running in a county race with no opponent.

Roberts is organizationally ahead. Whether he can capitalize on that and build on it remains to be seen.

Neither one of these guys has much name recognition in most of the district. But neither does Meier either. It's going to be an expensive race just to get name recognition for any of them.

Anonymous said...

i love watching people talk about things they know nothing about. arcuri WAS campaigning back in january. going to the county commitees, i've seen people on here talk about how he "hasn't even been to the western part of the district", which is just flat out false. just becuase things don't get talked about on this blog, does not mean it did not happen. arcuri has a full time campaign manager, and dedicated and experienced people working hard to get him elected.

Anonymous said...

Mike Arcuri's problem is he cannot devote enough time to this race while he has a full time job as a sitting DA. He can draw a salary from the campaign if he wants. Better to do that and campaign full time.

It's not like he has no job skills if he loses, but trying to run part time for Congress won't get him there.

Norway said...

The election IS for sale. The district is so huge that it will cost close to half a million just to do pre-primary advertising. Don't imagine in your wildest dreams that anyone can raise that kind of money in the 24th, even if all their nieces and nephews put in a couple thou. It MUST come from outside. The question is, will it come from like-minded citizens, from political action committees, or from the party organization itself? And which is best? I don't know, do you?

Anonymous said...

Well I suppose listening to the "part time" war cry is slightly more palatable albeit even more lame than the old "anti choice" or "Iraq in 2003" war cry.

Norway is correct. Nobody knows which means of funding is better. Nobody knows plenty of things about other people's campaign strategies. To pretend to know is what is left. And to pretend to be a professional congressional campaign strategist on a blog is just downright funny. What I like about Norway is he doesn't pretend to know anything.

24 Independent said...

4:27 - You'll see quite clearly in all my comments here that I have never pretended to by a professional campaign consultant on this blog. I've often used the phrase "just a guy" to describe myself. I am a professional consultant, but I work with businesses for the most part, and as I've pointed out before, I have never had any clients anywhere in the 24th District.

In terms of what I write about this campaign, I should be regarded as just another interested voter.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate that Democrat and feel compelled to tell you that I wasn't referring to you.

Anonymous said...

4:27 pm - some of us have actually run races larger than a couple of uncontested countywide DA races. Some people on this blog actually know what they are talking about.

We want to see a Democratic winner and we know what it will take organizationally.

Anonymous said...

You can call yourself anything you want on a blog, and it appears that some of us do. Some of us also have an exaggerated sense of our own importance as well.

Anonymous said...

Democrat, re: 8:46 I rest my case.

Anonymous said...

If you know what it takes organizationally, then how come we haven't been represented by a democrat in congress or the senate since before most of us kicked the slats off our cradles? Just curious.

Anonymous said...

Incidentally I meant the state senate on that last post. Of course, we all know YOU got Schumer and Clinton elected.

Anonymous said...

the state senate, have you ever looked at the maps of these districts??? every time they go to redistrict they set it up to protect the power. siliver and bruno have everything just they way they want it. in fact, I have a hunch that they don't ever want to have each branch held by the same party because then maybe they would actually have to do something productive.

Anonymous said...

Something productive? God forbid. I can't think of one thing the state senate has done that has affected anybody I know positively. That is why guys like Meier MUST go. Imagine what a lousy congressman he would make, he's a horrible senator. the republicans plan on replacing him with one even less useful and competent than he is. If we can't beat these bums we are really really useless as a party. You see, that's how they beat us to begin with. They unite. Take it for what it's worth.

Anonymous said...

The reason you haven't been represented by a Democrat in Congress is a combination of gerrymandering that makes upstate districts protected for Republican incumbents, an utterly ineffective DCCC that can't provide enough funding and often can't tell the right candidates to throw it's weight behind and a general fear by Democratic candidates that the conservative smear tactics are so widespread that even Democrats smear liberal Democrats. There is no sense in a conservative Democrat running since the conservative Republicans already have that voter bloc covered.

The reasons are similar for the State Senate races - essentially it's hard to find a truly credible candidate who wants to take on a jaugernaut like the Republican established state senator's machine.

The fact is this is the first time in a few years that we actually have credible candidates for Congress on the Democratic side. Five plus years of the conservative led Bush disaster have started opening the eyes of Americans.

The 24th CD is a gerrymandered up mess that benefits an incumbent. When there is no incumbent it benefits the best organized candidate.

With two remaining Democrats with limited electoral experience, 11 totally disconected Counties, and limited numbers of volunteers with any depth of experience in multi-county districts, any reasonable person with a little background in politics and elections would be wondering if the campaigns were going to be up to it.

Those are the facts Jack.

Anonymous said...

I believe that the most help Democrats will get this year is from the White House. A good Democrat who has a fighting chance, and who has proven that people will vote for him, automatically gets his odds increased compliments of George Bush's arrogance and complete disregard for what Americans want him to focus on. The Decider has already set our stage for us. But if we run primaries and the losers walk away sucking lemons and don't throw their support behind the winner, we will be in no better shape than we were last time they races were run. And THAT's a fact, Jack.

Curious said...

12:25--"You see, that's how they beat us to begin with. They unite. Take it for what it's worth."

Well, not exactly. What's apparent is that the GOP will have a primary, either three-way or two-way, whereas the Dems may or may not. And for all of you who think competing Dems is a bad, bad thing, let me throw this out there. . . .

What happens if Roberts pulls out, as Arcuri supporters here seem to be panting for? I'll tell you what. Nobody but the GOP gets any attention until October. No newspaper coverage, no debates or candidate forums, no letters to the editor, no interest from Dem voters, nothing. A primary helps energize all of that stuff. No primary = no interest.

The GOP candidates look ready to go all the way. They will get all the media attention through September. By then, it will be too late for the Dems, who will have bored their constituents into a coma.

Anonymous said...

11:38 - Then there are two things the Arcuri campaign needs to do. First is articulate what you said here which is the correct strategy. Second is stop attacking liberals. I doubt the Roberts supporters will want a Republican if Roberts loses, but attacking liberals is the lifeblood of the conservative Republicans so Arcuri makes himself look like the political enemy when he attacks liberals.

Anonymous said...

1:39 - you are sooooooo right. Without a primary, nobody would know who the Democrat was.

Every day that passes is one less day the candidates have to campaign, to get name recognition, to raise money, to get active supporters who can carry petitions and carry a message. Since neither was run in a race outside a single county before, neither Democrat really knows how much work it will take to win. Yeah, yeah, Mike Arcuri had one contested race and two free rides inside a single county - don't tell me he has important experience because it's not nearly enough for a Congressional race. Without a primary, neither candidate would be working hard enough and the press wouldn't be paying attention anyway because there would be no story.

A primary is a must do.

Anonymous said...


your analysis is logical and well reasoned, but misses two crucial points. in a normal district with fair media coverage that wasn't slanted to the right a primary would mean equal coverage, however in this district many of the media outlets are slanted to the right (for example the Auburn Citizen, Rome Daily, Utica O-D, etc.)

Take the week in March when Arcuri announced, Boehlert Retired, and Meier announced for an example. Boehlert received several pages of coverage in the OD and Rome Daily, which would be normal for a retiring Representative of 24 years I would say. However, 4 days earlier the OD covered the Arcuri announcment and gave him a decent article of about a quarter to half a page. But when Meier announced the next Monday they dedicated a page and a half in the paper to his announcment. I expect that we will see the same coverage from this and other papers come September primary time.

My other point is that unfortunately for all residents of NY our primary comes in September, which is very late in the process. This fact will severely limit the chances of a democrat in this district becuase that leaves about 9 weeks for any democrat to convince the voters of a district, that has been dominated by republicans, to convince independent voters to vote democrat. This will be a challenge that will require lots of money, lots of volunteers, lots of activisim. If one candidate can start this process much earlier over the summer than the chances of swaying this voting block is much higher, especially if they can convince all democrats to unite behind them. Think of it this way, won't the democratic candidate do much better when they are talking about their vision for the district and what they can do for it, while the republicans are ripping eachother apart trying to get elected (which the two lesser known candidates will have to do if they have a shot at getting the nod). just a thought.

Norway said...

It's probably worth remembering that no Democrat can win 24 with only Democratic votes. To win, a candidate must get ALL the Dem votes plus many, many blanks and other party votes. So alienating any portion of the party is self-defeating.

Anonymous said...

6:35 am - all fine and good except for one thing. Newspaper readership is relatively low and folks who read newpaper articles to make election decisions are a subset of that.

Getting the voters to even know your name will take a lot of radio and some TV also along with a good dose of cable TV advertising and a bunch of direct mail.

None of them are going to give you free air time and without a primary, there is really no news in the early part of a campaign unless you are attacking your opponent. If the newspapers are right leaning, they won't give you coverage anyway unless you are on the attack.

In some communities, lawn signs are not legal until after the primary either.

A good positive primary about which is the better Democratic candidate will enhance the name recognition of the eventual winner without dragging in a bunch of tiresome negative campaigning. It will test the campaign's organizational structure, give the workers a trial run, prepare the candidate for the sprint to the finish and empower him.

If you have to sway enough voters to leave the Republicans, you have a lost cause. Anybody who thinks Bush and the Republicans are doing ok can't be swayed. Your need to to stay positive, use the primary for as much free news coverage as you can get, test your systems, and be able to pull it off on election night.