For Mitt Romney, the impressive fundraising totals demonstrate why, even though he usually polls in the single digits, he’s included in the top tier of presidential contenders, rather than back at the rest of the pack with Brownback, Huckabee, etc. It reinforces an image of Romney as a businessman who can run an organization well and will provide him with the money to get his message out and improve his name recognition. For a man who is still unknown to many Americans, appearing as the top headline on Drudge as a Round 1 winner along with Hillary Clinton, is clearly a boost. The question that remains for the Romney campaign is whether all of this money and the added attention that comes along with it will translate into grassroots support and improved poll numbers, or if he’ll remain all hype. Also, I’m curious to learn more about the $2.35 million loan he made to the campaign, and to see his cash burn rate. (See more here).
For Rudy Giuliani, who got a late start and has been criticized for an organization that has lagged rivals, his showing was solid and demonstrates the allure of his star appeal and his ability to tap the New York market and other connections he made as mayor and running his business for the past 5 years. His cash on hand should allow him to put some meat on the bones of his organization. He showed momentum in March, and will have to carry that into the second quarter, as the media and opponents try to undo his post-9/11 image. He needs to show that his support is deep and he’s not just some flavor of the month.
The McCain campaign still has not released its numbers, so I don’t want to say too much until they come out, because there’s always the chance that they are managing expectations. However, in recent weeks, the McCain campaign has laid the groundwork for announcing weak numbers, and McCain himself told bloggers last week that he was “unhappy” with his fundraising performance. If it is a weak number, as is largely expected, it will reinforce the perception that McCain is washed up, and that his candidacy isn’t receiving any traction. The campaign has said it got a late start, which is kind of hard to believe given that it’s no secret he’s been running for years, and that we’ve read a lot about his organizational strength. If he did have a bad quarter, he’ll really have to step it up in Q2, because by then his campaign will be out of excuses.