washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dem Prospects May Depend on ‘Invisible Primary’

Money being the ‘mother’s milk’ of politics, the pursuit of the cash cows by Presidential aspirants is already well-underway. So report Chris Cillizza and Michael A. Fletcher in their Sunday WaPo article “Candidates Woo Bush Donors for ‘Invisible Primary.” Fletcher and Cillizza explain the ‘Rangers’ and ‘Pioneers’ strategy presidential candidate Bush used in 2000, noting,

These Rangers, who raised $200,000 or more for Bush in 2004, and Pioneers, who each collected more than $100,000 as part of campaigns that redefined modern political fundraising, are being intensely courted by GOP presidential aspirants across the country, both in large gatherings…and one-on-one.

The authors are primarilly concerned with the fund-raising efforts of GOP candidates in this piece, but they have the following to say about Democrats moving into position for a presidential run:

Although Democrats do not have an equivalent for the Rangers and Pioneers, their leading candidates have already begun making the rounds of wealthy donors.
Last week, Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) ventured to New York to meet with a group of potential donors assembled by liberal philanthropist George Soros.
And Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) has spent much of the past two years building a fundraising infrastructure that raised nearly $50 million for her lopsided reelection campaign. The donors who contributed to that campaign can give again, should she run for president in 2008.

The authors term aggressive early fund raising as a sort of “invisible primary,” the winners of which get a huge jump before anyone in Iowa or New Hampshire casts a ballot. All in all, it is a sobering look at the money game behind political campaigns. But the Democrats do have a fund-raising advantage, as noted by David D. Kirkpatrick in his New York Times article “G.O.P. Draws Fire on Senate Race Spending,” quoting political analyist Stuart Rothenberg on the benefits of the November 7th Democratic sweep:

People are going to be clamoring to give to the Democrats…For the Republicans, it is going to be pulling teeth, especially with a presidential race coming up

Taken together, the two aforementioned articles provide instructive insights into the ‘money game,’ as played by winners and losers.