Last night, the Democratic candidates for Governor, Stacey Evans and Stacey Abrams, filed their latest disclosure reports. Of course I have reviewed both disclosures. And it’s very clear these reports show that the spending decisions and fundraising sources of the two campaigns differ in a way that is indicative of what type of governor they may be. The reports also show one glaring and undeniable fact – one of these campaigns has financial viability and one does not.
While both Evans and Abrams have brought in a total of roughly $2.3 million, the financial comparisons end there. The analysis below attempts to breakdown precisely how these two campaigns raised and spent their money, as well as, more importantly, where that leaves them today.
Fundraising Sources: Candidates that are financially supported by out of state donors have out of state priorities.
One major difference in the two reports is in-state money versus out-of-state money. Less than 40% of Abrams’ money this period came from inside the state, while Stacey Evans raised more than 90% of her money in Georgia. Each campaign had a number of high-profile donors, including Alyssa Milano and Merryll Streep for Abrams, and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Governor Roy Barnes for Evans. Evans also gave herself a large loan to close the gap on the national donors Abrams has been courting for years.
Let’s take a second to parse out Evans’ loan. For those who don’t know her, Stacey Evans did not come into this money through inheritance or luck – she earned it helping to win one of the largest cases of Medicare Fraud…ever. Now she is putting her hard earned money where her
mouth is – towards making this State better. How many of us, if we had $1 million in the bank would give it up for a job that pays $139,000.
Let’s try to put ourselves in Evans’ heels. After clawing your way out of poverty, you come to the legislature; you see the HOPE scholarship – the only reason you could afford to go to college and get to where you are in life – being gutted with the help of the Democratic Minority Leader. And then, six years later, you see that same Democrat – propped up by national organizations – running a campaign on restoring the very scholarship she helped gut in the first place.
When Stacey Evans says her campaign is a crusade to make technical college free, and to restore HOPE, I take her at her word – she has real skin in the game that shows her selflessness.
Spending: How you spend as a candidate indicates how you will manage the budget as governor.
The memo that leaked from Abrams’ campaign earlier this week emphasizes that they are not focused on a “raise and hold” strategy, and their spending habits surely confirm this. Abrams’ campaign has spent heavily on overhead, travel and staff, convinced that spending early and often to lay the “necessary groundwork” will disprove the conventional wisdom of how to win a state-wide campaign. Conversely, Evans’ campaign has kept spending leaner, ostensibly so that they can afford the levels of field and broadcast television needed during the home stretch of campaigns.
The spending number that inside baseball folks tend to focus on is the burn rate – which is essentially the rate that a campaign is spending (or “burning”) the dollars that they raise. Evans’ primary election burn rate for this disclosure period was roughly 35%, meaning she spent 35% of the money that she brought in. Abrams’ primary election burn rate for the disclosure period was roughly 95%. It is simply not possible to run a sustainable campaign with a burn rate this high – it shows a lack of discipline and a lack of understanding of what it takes to run an effective state-wide campaign. When assessing Abrams’ burn rate, the AJC’s lead political writer, Jim Galloway, noted that this “isn’t a high burn rate. It’s a forest fire.”
Cash on Hand: How much money you have in the primary dictates how much money you have in the general election.
Campaigning 101 tells you that “cash on hand” is perhaps the single most important indicator for the financial health of a campaign. It is the money that a campaign has available to fund their day-to-day efforts, and, ultimately, to communicate with voters in the critical months leading up to the election.
Stacey Abrams’ cash on hand for the primary is roughly $180,000.
Stacey Evans’ cash on hand for the primary is roughly $1,500,000.
So, Stacey Evans has more than 8X more money to spend than Stacey Abrams.
Furthermore, it appears that Abrams’ campaign has spent over $200,000 in each of the previous two months. In other words, Abrams currently does not have enough cash on hand to fund her campaign for one full month.
Takeaway: One candidate has a financial advantage.
The Two Staceys. Black Stacey vs. White Stacey (we shouldn’t care about this). National vs. Local (we should really care about this). A lot of contrasts and narratives have already formed around this campaign as Georgia’s Democrats try to decide which of these two candidates to back. However, given yesterday’s disclosures, I would argue that there is one distinction in this race that now dwarfs all others – one of these campaigns has the money to win an election, and one does not.
Previously, I wrote a post about the two Staceys on one ticket. I discussed an imaginary process for the two to make a decision who should run for Lt. Governor and who should run for Governor on the Democratic Primary. I know that is the primary purpose of the primary. However, if Democrats make this decision in house we can have the strongest chance at getting a Democrat in the Governor’s Mansion. When we compare the money raised by the Republicans, we can not afford to divide because we won’t conquer. Which candidate should humble themselves and take the second seat? This disclosure report is a great way to decide to put the strongest candidate with the most organized financing in the lead role.