Visualizing U.S. Senate fundraising

People who have followed fundraising totals in South Dakota’s U.S. Senate race know the basic facts: Mike Rounds has raised by far the most, Nelson and Rhoden have raised the least, Weiland has been steady but unimpressive, and Bosworth has raised a lot of money from nationwide donors in unusual circumstances.

But here’s a way to visualize that fundraising at a glance. I used a tool called a heat map, which represents the density of points on a table, to map the cities the five candidates have raised money from. (This isn’t counting unitemized donations.)

Here, for example, is Stace Nelson's fundraising heat map:


(Larger interactive version) You can see Nelson has raised almost all his money in South Dakota, in a series of scattered clumps — not too much money in any one place. He also has a big clump in the Mitchell area, Nelson’s back yard. 

Contrast that with Larry Rhoden's fundraising:


(Larger interactive version) Rhoden has a lot less support in eastern South Dakota, but dominates West River. Rhoden also has a teensy bit more nationwide support, but nothing significant.

Annette Bosworth, on the other hand:


(Larger interactive version) South Dakota is almost barren. Bosworth has raised a lot more money than Rhoden and Nelson, but far less in South Dakota. Instead, Bosworth’s map is dotted with yellow, reflecting a lot of scattered fundraisign around the country, but few real concentrations. She does have a disproportionate amount from Florida and the eastern seaboard, as well as the metro areas Denver and Chicago. All this fits with Bosworth’s direct mail-based approach of targeting conservative donors — often retired — around the country.

Here’s Rick Weiland:


(Larger interactive version) Weiland has a broad national base of support, as well as a fair amount of donations from South Dakota. He’s not as concentrated in a few South Dakota cities as Rhoden and Nelson are, but significant portions of the map are covered with yellow and red. Weiland also has a big cluster in Washington, D.C. — despite his lack of support from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee — and is strong in Boston and San Francisco.

Finally, there’s Mike Rounds:


(Larger interactive version) Rounds has raised a lot more money than anyone, and that’s reflected on the map. He’s collected money from a huge swathe of South Dakota, with a particular concentration in the Sioux Falls area. Rounds has also taken in a lot of money in the nation’s big cities: D.C. (but less prominently than Weiland), Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles.

Jason Ravnsborg and Larry Pressler have yet to report any significant fundraising.

Here’s all the interactive links in one place:

Bosworth’s interesting campaign finance report

Annette Bosworth made a big splash when she raised $315,000 in the final quarter of 2013, an order of magnitude greater than her rivals Larry Rhoden and Stace Nelson, twice as much as Democrat Rich Weiland and more than half the total of frontrunner Mike Rounds.

With the second-tier candidates trying to stand out from the crowd and become the alternative to Rounds, a strong fundraising quarter is crucial.

But the manner in which Bosworth raised $315,000 is also very interesting.

First, Bosworth raised three-fourths of that money in small donations less than $200. Rounds, in contrast, raised 3.5 percent of his money from small donors. Rhoden raised around 8 percent that way. Nelson raised about one-third of his money in unitemized donations. So this is definitely striking.

Second, Bosworth got a lot of money from out of state. Her report isn’t up itemized digital form, so I spent a few minutes typing out her donations by state. Of $78,000 in itemized donations, just $6,900 were from South Dakota. That’s less than she got from Florida and Texas. Altogether she got donations from 36 different states, 

Third, Bosworth took in a lot of money but owes even more. She raised $315,000 in the quarter, spent $94,000, and owes another $255,000. As Pat Powers noted, she actually owes more than she has in the bank.

Fourth, she spent a lot of money on Facebook advertising. I haven’t added it up, but there’s dozens of entries totaling thousands of dollars.

Fifth, she spent a ton on direct mail fundraising. More than $130,000 in expenses and debts, by my rough count, went to the firm Base Connect and an affiliated company operating out of the same office, Century Data Mailing Service. On top of that, she owes $76,000 to Consolidated Mailing Services, another direct mail company. Direct mail is famously one of the most expensive ways to fundraise, at least at first, though it can help build a list for future, more efficient, fundraising.

Finally, Bosworth is subscribing to some very controversial firms, particularly Base Connect. From Salon:

Formerly known as BMW Direct, Base Connect describes itself “a full-service creative agency for conservative candidates running at the national level.” For the past several election cycles, the firm’s M.O. has gone like this: find a longshot conservative candidate running against a well-established Democratic incumbent, then launch a national fundraising campaign by sending direct mail to a list of true-believing but small-time conservative donors around the country.

The catch is that as much 75 or 80 or even 95 percent of the money raised is paid back to Base Connect and its “partner” companies (which are based in the same suite in the same building just off K Street in Washington). GOP consultant Bill Pascoe dubbed this “subprime fundraising.” And Erick Erickson once said that candidates who use the firm are in danger of losing RedState’s endorsement, presumably because conservative donors’ money is going to a fundraising agency rather than actually helping the cause. Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA) dropped all ties with Base Connect after Talking Points Memo reported in March he was paying the firm 75 percent in fundraising fees.

As Cory Heidelberger noted, Base Connect has promoted Bosworth on its Facebook page.

It’s hard to know exactly what to make of this, but it’s clear that much of the money Bosworth took in isn’t actually going to be useful for running her campaign. Instead, it’ll go right out the door as part of high fundraising fees.

Of course, if this helps Bosworth break out from the pack, it may all be worth it.

Daugaard raises $900K in 2013, has $1.7M

Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s 2013 financial report went online last night, and showcases the incumbent governor’s huge financial head start whenever he formally announces his reelection bid this year.

Daugaard took in $907,000 in 2013, spent only $206,000, and thus has a full $1.7 million in the bank.

Most of Daugaard’s money came from individual South Dakota contributors.

His 2013 haul is a slight increase on the year before, when he took in $840,000.

The governor’s 2013 expenses included almost $100,000 in advertising* and a $51,000 donation to the South Dakota Republican Party. Daugaard even gave a $3,000 charitable donation to his former employer, the Children’s Home Society.

Neither Daugaard’s Republican challenger Lora Hubbel, nor independent Mike Myers, nor new Democratic challenger Susan Wismer has filed a 2013 report (and Wismer won’t, having entered the race in 2014).

Democrat Joe Lowe and Constitution Party candidate Curtis Strong both were in the race for about a month of the year and had quiet starts.

Lowe raised $1,300 and spent almost all of it, closing with around $100 in the bank.

Strong raised $1,100, all but $100 of that from himself, and also spent most of it. He has about $200 in the bank.

*Unless I’ve missed TV or radio spots touting Daugaard, my best guess is that this largely reflects the governor’s expenses buying displays and space at in the programs at various Lincoln Day Dinners around the state.

Bosworth pokes at rival’s fundraising

U.S. Senate candidate Annette Bosworth reportedly had a very good financial quarter (though her actual FEC filing is not yet online), taking in $315,000. That’s less than Mike Rounds, but a lot more than her two rivals: Stace Nelson and Larry Rhoden.

Bosworth knows this. And, this morning, she pointed it out:

Rhoden raises $37K, has $73K on hand

U.S. Senate candidate Larry Rhoden raised $37,740 in the fourth quarter of the year, and has $72,862.15 in the bank.

That’s a step back from Rhoden’s first quarter, when he raised $62,550. His cash on hand is an increase from $55,000 after the first quarter.

Rhoden raised more than his rival Stace Nelson’s $31,040, but far less than frontrunner Mike Rounds’ $516,000 and Annette Bosworth’s reported $315,000.

Stace Nelson raises $31K in fourth quarter, has $33K on hand

Rep. Stace Nelson raised $31,040 for his U.S. Senate bid in October, November and December of 2014, and has $33,745.63 in the bank, his campaign says.

That’s less than the $43,500 Nelson raised in his first, partial quarter in the race, and a fraction of frontrunner Mike Rounds’ $516,000 quarter.

Nelson has no campaign debt, spokesman Eldon Stahl said.

More updates coming later.

Rick Weiland goes to Sesame Street: The latest fundraising pitch from Democratic U.S. Senate candidate sent me scrambling to Google to figure out something I didn’t understand:

Nobody Knows Me, My Name Is Mobity Mosely

Stop Mobity Mosely from taking over South Dakota.  Click here and contribute $9 to Rick Weiland.

Sounds pretty silly, but it is not a joke!  Even Mobity Mosely, the silly Muppets puppet who inspired a generation of now no longer kids to hop around singing, “nobody knows me, my name is Mobity Mosely,” over and over and over again could be paying for the Mike Rounds television ads that began airing Tuesday on KSFY TV. (Formatting from original, links removed.)

Apparently, Mobity Mosely was a muppet on the early years of Sesame Street. He contributed a song to the 1974 album, “My Name is Roosevelt Franklin,” about learning the months of the year. That song did, in fact, close with the lines, “nobody knows me, my name is Mobity Mosely.” As near as I can tell, he hasn’t been used much in recent decades, including in the late 1980s when I was watching Sesame Street. Perhaps I’d get the reference if I’d grown up in the early 70s?

Nelson lowering fundraising expectations

U.S. Senate candidate Stace Nelson didn’t have fourth-quarter fundraising numbers to share on Friday, but he said the results would be moderate.

"It’s not going to be anything earth-shattering," Nelson said. "We did a little bit better than last quarter. We’re just a plowhorse chugging along."

Last quarter, Nelson raised $43,500 in a half-quarter of fundraising. He raised just under $1,000 a day. Projecting that out to a full quarter would have given him around $90,000.

Previously, Nelson’s rival Mike Rounds announced he had raised $516,000.

Rounds raises $516,000

The Capital Journal reports that Mike Rounds raised around $516,000 in the fourth quarter of the year.

That’s a slight decrease from the $607,000 Rounds raised in the third quarter, and gives him a total amount raised of about $2.1 million for his entire campaign.

None of the other campaigns have released fundraising totals yet for the fourth quarter. In the third quarter, none of Rounds’ Republican rivals raised more than $65,000.

Rounds’ campaign also tells me they’ll have about $1.15 million in the bank at the end of the year. That’s $136,000 more than the $1.014 million Rounds had at the end of the third quarter. So Rounds drastically increased his campaign spending in the fourth quarter, spending much of what he took in, for a “burn rate” around 75 percent.

(High “burn rates” are sometimes problematic for campaigns, but not always. It depends on what value the candidate is getting for money spent now compared to what value they’d get spending that money later. Given Rounds’ big financial advantages, he might feel he doesn’t need to be stockpiling cash.

More specifically, it is frequently a warning sign when a campaign’s high burn rate is largely due to spending money on fundraising. If a candidate raises $100,000 but spends $95,000 sending out direct mail solicitations, that suggests the $100,000 figure is largely illusory. If most of that $95,000 had been spent on TV ads instead, the fundraising figures would be much more impressive.)

We won’t know until Rounds’ full report comes out next week exactly what he’s spending money on.

I’ll post updates as I get fundraising numbers from the other campaigns. You can also monitor my spreadsheet of campaign fundraising.

(h/t SDWC)

The Hill: Weiland raises $170,000

Alexandra Jaffe of The Hill reports that Rick Weiland raised around $170,000 in the third quarter of the year and has around $315,000 in the bank.

That’s an increase on the second quarter, where Weiland raised $105,000 in just over half of the three month period.

On a per-day basis, Weiland is keeping up his pace. He raised $1,944 per day in the second quarter and took in $1,847 per day in the third.

He’s still far behind Republican frontrunner Mike Rounds, who raised $607,000 and has around $1 million in the bank. But Weiland is also doing far better than the second tier of Republican Senate candidates, Annette Bosworth, Stace Nelson and Larry Rhoden. Rhoden, the best fundraiser of the group, took in $62,000. Weiland’s total is bigger than all three combined, though he also had more time to raise money. On a per-day basis, the three combined for $2,387 to his $1,847.

Weiland’s fundraising is also tracking 2012 U.S. House candidate Matt Varilek’s very closely. Varilek raised $104,579 in his first quarter in the race, and $168,136 in his second — both just slightly below Weiland’s totals. Key differences include Varilek entering the race in December of the year before the election (Weiland got in six months earlier) and Varilek having several fewer weeks in his first fundraising quarter.

Here’s an updated spreadsheet showing recent South Dakota political fundraising.

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