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In CNN's June 14, 2023 'He’s scared s***less’: Hear John Kelly’s blunt take on Trump indictment at about 08:23, CNN's Chief National Affairs Correspondent Jeff Zeleny says:

So one of the reasons the candidates are not out there quite as much this week and next is because it's almost the end of the second quarter for fundraising. So it's a critical time for fundraising.

Ballotpedia's Presidential election campaign finance, 2024 begins:

Every presidential candidate is required to register with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and file regular financial reports detailing their fundraising and campaign spending. During presidential election years, candidates who anticipate that they will raise or spend more than $100,000 must file monthly reports. Candidates who anticipate that they will raise and spend less than $100,000 file on a quarterly schedule, as do all presidential candidates during non-presidential election years.

The US FEC's Public funding of presidential elections also discusses quarterly filings.

But I haven't a clue why Zeleny would give "because it's almost the end of the second quarter for fundraising" as "one of the reasons the candidates are not out there quite as much this week and next". For example, in a previous life I recall the regular drumbeat of spikes pressure from above to secure capital equipment purchase orders from customers before the end of each quarter. We had to be "out there" in the customers' faces. Target was favorable quarterly sales reports seen by stockholders. One did everything possible to ensure the highest possible numbers each quarter1

Wouldn't being "out there" in front of the public generally boost donations?

Question: Why would it being "almost the end of the second quarter for fundraising" be a reason for US presidential candidates not being "out there quite as much"?


1It always seemed to be a zero sum game (gains in this quarter are losses for next), as it does to me in this case, so the rationalization didn't make sense. I assume it was just an excuse to add more pressure.

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  • note to editors: I've added some additional information to make it clearer 1) exactly why I don't understand Zeleny's point and 2) my understanding of quarterly income reporting, in order to help answer authors better understand how to explain it to me. Please don't go and delete it just because you personally feel it's not relevant to you. (cf. @uhoh's lemma #3)
    – uhoh
    Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 1:33
  • I wonder if Nikki Haley's first-quarter fundraising came in lower than campaign claimed sheds some light on the importance (real or perceived) of quarterly report numbers?
    – uhoh
    Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 1:35
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    I would interpret Zeleny's statement as 'being out there' is opposed to fund raising. The candidates are less out there, meaning appearing in public, in talk shows, giving interviews etc because they spend more time fundraising which is a non-public affair of private meetings or phone calls with individual rich people.
    – quarague
    Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 7:46
  • 1
    appearing in public is for attracting votes. private meetings is to attract dollars.
    – Mazura
    Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 21:01

1 Answer 1

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  1. The most efficient way to deploy a candidate to boost donations is to target high dollar donors. A retail campaign stop is great for attracting votes but it isn't going to raise a lot of money for the campaign. A private $500-a-plate banquet followed by a $1000 candidate meet-and-greet event is going to raise a lot more money for the campaign. So at the end of the quarter, most candidates are going to shift some of their time from attracting votes to attracting dollars.

  2. Quarterly fundraising numbers are important because they tend to have positive feedback loops. Most donors look at most candidates at this point in the race and have serious doubts about whether they're going to have the money and momentum to make it to 2024. They want to see evidence that other people are supporting the candidate. Since everyone has to file fundraising numbers every quarter, that becomes a very easy way for donors and potential donors to see who has the financial backing to be a serious candidate. Finishing second or third in fundraising dollars this quarter makes it much easier to attract money next quarter. Finishing tenth in fundraising dollars, on the other hand, tends to scare potential donors away because they expect their money to be wasted.

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  • "A retail campaign stop is great for attracting votes but it isn't going to raise a lot of money for the campaign." Except perhaps for one notable exception.
    – uhoh
    Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 2:58
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    @uhoh hi sorry I don't know much about american politics: would you be kind enough to spell this out for me? (Sorry in advance for killing the joke by having it explained!). Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 13:53
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    @JohnMadden I'd have to ask a new question to collect enough facts to support it, but I think the former US president Trump is working a hybrid method, and is not laying low these few weeks but is instead still "out there". For example there was both a high-visibility event for "the base" and a $1,000/plate meeting with donors on the same day. Trump raised $2 million hours after arraignment
    – uhoh
    Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 16:21
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    Well, he's definitely out there.
    – Mazura
    Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 21:02
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    @JustinCave we'd need proper "out there" metric before we can pursue this much further. I suppose I could try to ask "Has DT always gotten a substantially smaller fraction of his campaign donations from 'X$/plate' events than the other republican candidates?" Anyway I certainly appreciate your answer.
    – uhoh
    Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 23:44

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