Martin O’Malley’s Fundraising Report: Five takeaways

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Martin O’Malley at the Iowa State Fair in August. (Photo by iprimages with Flickr Creative Commons License)

By Jon Banister and Madeleine Deason


WASHINGTON – New presidential campaign fundraising totals were released last week that show Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders continue to dominate former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley in the money race. The third quarter numbers revealed some trends – most of them discouraging – of the O’Malley campaign.

1. O’Malley is spending at a higher rate than his competitors

The $1.28 million Martin O’Malley’s campaign raised from July 1 to September 30 reflects a 36 percent drop from the $2 million he raised in the second quarter. While his fundraising fell, the two Democratic frontrunners, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, saw an increase in contributions. Clinton raised $29.9 million while Sanders brought in $26.2 million.

But even worse for O’Malley is the rate at which he’s burning through his money. O’Malley has spent 75 percent of the money he has raised since beginning his campaign, and had just $806,000 cash on hand at the end of September. Clinton has spent 57 percent of her total fundraising so far, and still has $33 million in the bank. Sanders has spent 35 percent of his total fundraising and has $27 million on hand.

“The idea that he can – either with the $1.3 million that he raised or the $800,000 he has on hand – even create a national profile, he’s not going to do it,” said Todd Eberly, chair of the political science department at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

2. O’Malley is relying heavily on his home state for fundraising

As O’Malley has struggled to gain name recognition on the national stage, he has continued to raise the vast majority of his funds from Maryland. Roughly 32 percent of his third-quarter donations came from his home state, down slightly from 35 percent in the 2nd quarter. O’Malley is much more dependent on Marylanders than Clinton is on New Yorkers (12 percent) and Sanders is on Vermonters (0.9 percent).

“It just happens to be his home state and home to many wealthy people and he’s got many connections. But relying on that is not going to propel his candidacy,” Eberly said. “He needed to start building a national donor database that would suggest his name recognition is rising and suggest that there are folks supporting him outside of Maryland.”

3. O’Malley still has friends in Annapolis

Five state legislators have donated to O’Malley’s campaign since it began. The largest donor is Sen. Jim Rosapepe, D- Prince George’s, who gave the individual maximum of $2,700 in the second quarter. Sen. Brian Feldman, D-Montgomery, Sen. Karen Montgomery, D-Montgomery, Del. Shelly Hettleman, D-Baltimore, and Del. Kathleen Dumais, D-Montgomery, all have given O’Malley’s campaign between $250 and $1,000.

“Some always like to support the frontrunner, which the governor is not at the moment, but I feel that he is probably as good a candidate as any,” said Montgomery, who has donated $500 and said she plans to give more after her next paycheck. “And I feel that he has proven that he can do a good job and he’s not as prone to bluster as some candidates.”

4. The O’Malley campaign had a substantial last-minute fundraising blitz

In the final three days of the third-quarter filing period, the O’Malley campaign raised $211,449, more than 17 percent of its three-month total. More than half of that sum came on the final day of the quarter. Campaigns typically put extra effort into soliciting donations during the final days of a fundraising period to bolster their totals and project financial health. O’Malley’s campaign emailed at least four fundraising appeals in the final three days to help give a last-minute boost to his bank account.

“End-of-quarter fundraising deadlines are my least favorite days of the year because instead of talking to voters about the issues, I’m asking them to write a check,” read one fundraising e-mail signed by O’Malley.

5. O’Malley is not spending much on advertising

A lack of national media attention has hampered O’Malley’s ability to gain name recognition. And he hasn’t been able to spend as much as his opponents on media outreach and advertising. Since his announcement, the campaign has spent $144,000 on advertising and communications, totaling just 6 percent of overall expenditures. The bulk of the campaign’s spending, roughly 38 percent, has gone to staff, including salaries and payroll taxes.

O’Malley’s limited advertising budget puts him at a severe disadvantage. Clinton has spent 30 percent of her total expenditures on advertising and communications and 33 percent on staff. Sanders has spent 28 percent on advertising and 10 percent on staff.

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