Fund-raising tally important indicator in presidential race: VU campaign expert

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Raising hefty sums of cash early in the 2008 presidential campaign puts candidates in the driver’s seat for competing successfully in the primaries, according to Vanderbilt Professor of Political Science John Geer.

With March 31 marking the end of the first fund-raising period of the campaign, the major candidates have been in a whirlwind of parties and direct appeals to potential donors.

The ability to raise a lot of money early helps candidates win over party activists and gain more attention from the news media, said Geer, who teaches and writes about public opinion, campaigns, elections and the presidency. “Fundraising matters because commentators, pundits and journalists are looking for clues on who is doing well and not so well,” he said. “The poll numbers have been discussed a great deal, and now these fund-raising numbers will be new data to judge the two contests. It will be one of many mile posts as we march towards January 2008 and the start of actual voting.”

Geer said the fundraising is part of the invisible primary in a race that has moved into high gear relatively early. While significant early fundraising could discourage some potential candidates from jumping into the race, Geer does not think this would be the case for former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson.

“The candidates do not chase after the exact same set of donors, and Thompson would likely bring in some new funding sources.” Geer said Thompson’s bigger question would be whether he could raise the amount of money necessary to run a presidential campaign, expected to be the most costly ever in 2008.

Media contact: Ann Marie Deer Owens, 615-322-NEWS

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