Partying too hard? Did Romney sacrifice face time with voters for fundraising?
Partiers, you know we love a good bash, and no one has been more energetic in recent months than Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. That's why they were the top two partiers of 2012! But even we have to wonder - could they have partied too hard?
Look at the record and you can't help but wonder whether the different fundraising styles of the president and his unsuccessful Republican challenger may have affected the outcome in swing states and thereby, the race for the White House.
Since June of 2011, when Romney officially announced his candidacy for president, both his campaign and Obama's team spent significant time fundraising in what we like to call ATM states. Think New York, Texas, California. These are places the candidates like to visit because that's where the money is. In other words, both candidates often opted for attending low-turnout, high-dollar events rather than the town halls and rallies where they could build rapport with citizens in battleground territories. (Sunlighters have even tried to crash one of these exclusive dinners, but with no success - killjoys!)
But when studying which events Obama and Romney actually attended (as opposed to events merely thrown by campaign staff), it is Romney who appears to have been the heartier partier, possibly leaving him less time to establish visibility in crucial purple states.
Romney's VP pick, Paul Ryan, also appeared at many solidly red state events even through the end of October, time that could have been utilized to attain crucial votes in toss-ups -- one of which, Florida, came down to a fraction of a percent. But Ryan is like the Andrew W. K. of fundraising -- he always parties hard.
Comparing the two campaign's dance cards, one can see the overwhelming preference for safe states, whether it be their own color or their opposition. Take a look at the Obama Victory Fund's and Romney Victory, Inc.'s top eight fundraising states in that time period:
Romney Victory (209 total parties)_____ ___________ Obama Victory (319 total parties)
California - 25 parties California - 50 parties
New York - 17 New York - 39
Florida - 15 Massachusetts - 34
Texas - 12 Washington, D.C. - 32
Illinois - 12 Florida - 22
Georgia - 12 Illinois - 20
Washington, D.C. - 12 Washington - 9
Massachusetts - 9 Texas - 9
Romney Victory's top stops include big blue states like California and New York, as well as ones he had locked up like Texas and Georgia. Obama's committee also sticks to liberal havens California and New York, in addition to Massachusetts, D.C. and Illinois. Only one battleground state, Florida, shows up on these lists at all; each campaign held about 50 events total in undecided states, a relatively small amount in the time frame. There seems to be no difference here, other than Obama's camp throwing more parties overall, with high fundraising totals in already decided states that can boost cash rather than votes.
But the pure number of fundraisers, mostly small-scale, private affairs, each candidate has attended differs significantly. According to Party Time data, Romney swept his way through about 114 parties, while Obama appeared at only 86, a difference of 28 overall. Overall, Romney attended 55% of his campaign's parties, while Obama maintained a more staid 27% pace. OK, presidents are busy guys but this also may have freed Obama up for campaigning in the swing states, turning undecideds in his favor.
Yep, it looks to us like buttoned-down Mitt suffered from a classic case of partyitis.
The timing of Ryan's fundraising was also questionable. Within two weeks of the election, generally thought of as a time to thrust efforts towards swing state campaigning, Ryan was attending multiple private events to raise cash in hardcore red states. On Oct. 26, he participated in a $25,000 roundtable in Huntsville, Ala.; earlier that same day he attended a $12,500 VIP reception in Greenville, S.C.; and on Oct. 24 Ryan appeared in a $12,500 campaign discussion in Atlanta, Ga. Colorblind as your Party Time guide may be (really), even I can tell that none of these states is exactly purple.
In his defense, the high price tag of each event generated millions for the Romney/Ryan ticket, a valuable asset that purchased a multitude of ad buys across the battlegrounds. But when you consider that Romney's campaign had $169 million cash on hand on Oct. 17, that's $8.5 million in per day spending up until the election, one wonders whether they really needed all that green.
Another factor: The date at which each candidate decided to stop personally appearing at fundraisers. The president announced he would be in complete campaign mode on Oct. 11, 9 full days before Romney could say the same. As Obama was tidying up for the night, Romney had just popped his next bottle of champagne -- one that he simply couldn't afford.
Both Romney and Obama declined public funding of their campaign, the first time each presidential candidate has done so since government financing was offered. Each candidate proved they can raise far more than the $91.2 million offered in public funding; their combined campaign expenditures ballooned to over $2 billion. The down side, however, is that Obama and Romney lost valuable campaign time attempting to maintain aggressive fundraising schemes, especially leading up to Election Day -- when every second counts.
We knew the parties had to end for one of them. In the end, it was Obama and his supporters that celebrated well into the night, while Romney and the Republicans were forced to turn in early.