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Ben Carson’s Fundraising is Impressive…but His Burn Rate is Insane

Ben Carson’s Fundraising is Impressive…but His Burn Rate is Insane

The small donor payoff

GOP Presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson raised more money than any other Republican candidate between July and October of this year. His 3Q fundraising hit $20 million; Jeb Bush skidded in at second place with a respectable $13.4 million, narrowly edging out Ted Cruz, who boasted a $12.2 million take.

The rest of the candidates came in below the $10 million mark, but still managed to pad their war chests:

Q3 GOP fundraising october 2015

Who does Carson thank for all these donations? The average American voter:

This tracks well with reports dating back to July, when the Carson campaign took in over $10 million during the Q1 fundraising period. They fielded over 200,000 donations, with an average gift of just $50. Carson was already offering a strong performance in the polls, and his take reflected that popularity.

Good, right? Here comes the bad: This year, Mr. Carson’s campaign has spent $20 million of the $31 million it raised:

In the three-month period that ended September 30, the campaign spent 53 cents for every dollar it raised. That number was down slightly from 64 cents for every dollar raised in the second quarter of the year.

Spending top dollar on fundraising has enabled the campaign to assemble a list of more than two million donors from whom it raises between $200,000 and $350,000 per day, a campaign spokesman said.

In all, Mr. Carson directed $11 million of the $14 million he spent in the third quarter to fundraising costs.

This is called “burn rate”—and Carson’s burn rate is an insane 65% for the year, with a slightly higher rate (over two thirds) in Q3. What does this mean?

This means that his payments to fundraisers exceeded everything he paid to online vendors (think social media, email marketing, and online ads), direct mail efforts, travel, ad air time, telemarketing, his website, plus all of his staffers and consultants.

He still has a sizable war chest, but burn rate is something to be concerned about.

Q3 GOP cash on hand october 2015

Fundraising is expensive, but given these numbers, I can’t help but wonder if Ben Carson’s campaign has turned into a huge payday for the people responsible for tonight’s impressive headlines.

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If Carson wins the nomination, the burn rate here should mean very little.

DINORightMarie | October 15, 2015 at 9:57 pm

Wow. That is something that he needs to examine.

Not a good sign this far out; he will need much more on-hand when the primaries get going…….

You misunderstand the significance of burn rates.

For Bush or Christie, who rely on major donors and bundlers of maximum donations, burn rate is very important because they’ve hit most of their list hard already. Carson and Cruz are getting mostly small donations. The relative cost of acquiring lists and sending out mailers and professional phone banks is high now because the donations are small amounts.

BUT few of these donors are anywhere near the limit, and the history of fundraising proves those who give once to a cause, even a minimal amount, are the most likely to give again. And they can be tapped over and over as the primaries go on, with less expense at each hit, until they do max out.

    casualobserver in reply to Estragon. | October 16, 2015 at 9:05 am

    Many of those donors who aren’t tapped out are also likely to be more motivated as the field winnows. Probably as early as the end of this month we may see guys like Pataki, Graham, and Jindahl fall out. Maybe even Santorum. And before the end of the year, it may winnow down to as few as 7 or less.

    So it will be interesting in the donor-building money for Carson pays off especially if he maintains a top 1,2, or 3 position after the field steadily winnows. It may look like money well spent if those same people continue to fund him.

cantor4massat4 | October 16, 2015 at 7:44 am

I read somewhere that Cruz is being very careful with his donor’s money. He didn’t open an office in Iowa until a couple of weeks ago because he made more sense financially. I like that about him.

If he can’t manage paultry millions, imagine how he’ll waste trillions of tax dollars.

Physicians are notoriously bad at cash management. Throughout history physician sloppy handwriting has equated with sloppy bookkeeping.

Unless that is, the ‘burn rate’ dough mysteriously ends up in a Carribian bank account accessible only by a taciturn black guy in dark glasses and a floppy straw hat.

    Your comments are stereotypical and racist. Replace “he” with “she” in your first sentence and you have the perfect scenario for Hillary’s past behavior. Regarding Carson: There are times money should be spent and times it should be saved. If one saves what one should spend, that is not necessarily good management. You have no idea what their strategy is yet feel compelled to come here to make your racist comments.

      jayjerome66 in reply to gasper. | October 16, 2015 at 9:21 am

      Calling a black guy black is racist? Ha Ha Ha HA!

      What are you, some politically correct smuck from HuffPo?

      There’s something sneaky about Carson. Look at his veiled eyes in the photo at the top. something creepy is going on behind them. I have good instincts for bullcrap artists. Behind the doctorly facade, Ben is pure BS.

        You are a racist, plain and simple. The only thing sneaky is you.

          jayjerome66 in reply to gasper. | October 16, 2015 at 11:18 am

          OH yeah? An’ yo momma wears Air Jordan sneakers.

          And this racist would advise the Donald to chose Colin Powell as his VP, someone with real military and governmental experience. And I bet you’re one of those who refer to him as’Colen’ Powell. And I bet you have nothing but nice things to say about Obama too.

          gasper in reply to gasper. | October 16, 2015 at 11:49 am

          JJ: You are most certainly a racist. Advocating another black person for a subservient role to Trump is racist. Powell’s not good enough to run for President? You are shameless, but it’s what you do best – you have perfected that part of you.

          jayjerome66 in reply to gasper. | October 16, 2015 at 12:39 pm

          I also think AL Sharpton is an A-hole.
          Guess that confirms my racism
          OK , I admit it. I’m an incorrigible racist.
          But I think you’re a DA-hole. Figure it out.

          gasper in reply to gasper. | October 16, 2015 at 12:55 pm

          JJ – I have you figured out and that’s enough. I don’t like racists so you can readily figure out what I think of you.

      Valerie in reply to gasper. | October 18, 2015 at 2:35 pm

      JJ hates all the Republicans in this race. It isn’t a racist, it’s a Democrat.

    casualobserver in reply to jayjerome66. | October 16, 2015 at 9:12 am

    Gee, might you possibly be a Trump supporter???

    You might want to take a closer look at his personal finances before making such a categorical statement. While physicians do have a history of making bad investments, he isn’t necessarily guilty of that. After all, he’s worth over $30 million and that isn’t a paltry remainder from years of bad money management.

      jayjerome66 in reply to casualobserver. | October 16, 2015 at 9:30 am

      Well yeah, Trump”s the only Republican running I support. I was one of the few here who immediately said he was going to be a viable candidate, while the rest of you neighing nannies were writing him off as a one month wonder.

      Sneaky Ben is not presidential material. The only advantage he’d have in international diplomacy is putting opposition leaders to sleep at negotiating tables. How can anyone in their right mind even consider this guy as Prez?

    NC Mountain Girl in reply to jayjerome66. | October 17, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    What is the source of your information other than the false stereotypes? I spent my career in public accounting advising small business owners, including several well known medical practices. One was on retainer by an Olympic team. Another was also a professor at a noted medical school. Yet another was regularly thanked by a disabled vet turned politician he had treated. To a man and woman these were savvy business people. Several were also very good at managing their own investment portfolios. As for handwriting, mine was far worse than theirs with one exception and he was in the early stages of Parkinsons.

    The only Physician I advised over te years who fit your stereotype was a psychiatrist. The surgeons and the anesthesiologists were all very good business people.

    The only physician client who ever made a real stinker of an investment was taken in by someone they knew who became a con man when he couldn’t cover his losses trading commodities. He also took in several well known local lawyers and broadcast journalists plus some relatives.

Colin Powell for the GOP VP nomination? You do know Powell supported Obama because he found Obama’s economic plan superior, right? And Powell supports Obama’s Iran deal, and still has no regrets for voting for him twice even after Obama’s Middle East strategies have failed utterly. For one who likes Powell for his military experience in the past, you seem to have a certain amnesia (or perhaps lack of knowledge) as to who Powell has become in the present.

    Ragspierre in reply to gulfbreeze. | October 16, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Always bear in mind; he’s a lying Collectivist SOS who is only here as a Moby Troll. He has sever mental problems.

      jayjerome66 in reply to Ragspierre. | October 16, 2015 at 1:27 pm

      You forgot Godless Neo-agnostic, PeabrainPierre.

      Sort of like atheistic Ayn Rand, who defined Collectivist in the terms you use it.

        Ragspierre in reply to jayjerome66. | October 16, 2015 at 1:37 pm

        Nooooopa. Wrong…and STUPID…as usual.

        Look up Albert Jay Nock. And nobody cares what you believe, or what you think you “think”.

        Oh, and you ARE a multi-faceted bigot, as you’ve demonstrated repeatedly here. Typical of your Collective.

          jayjerome66 in reply to Ragspierre. | October 17, 2015 at 7:33 pm

          Nock! Nock!
          Who’s There?
          A Crock a Crock
          To whom few can compare!

          What’s best about him is his middle name.
          Other than that, he’s as relevant to modern economic theory as the telegraph is to WiFi.

          His primary references are to people who died before the telephone was invented, most of them European philosophers whose knowledge of modern economic theory was just as antiquated as those Wall Street investors who predicted there was no economic future for the telephone because bicycle messengers were cheap and plentiful.

          Other than that he’s fun to read if you like dated stuffy prose from an obscure elitist meta-bore whose views have proved to be as misguided and out of sync of the world that unfolded in front of his eyes as those Wall Street investors noted above.

          And oh yeah, didn’t he oppose the private ownership of land as part of his single tax scheme? And say the US Constitution wasn’t worth the paper it was written on, or something even less complimentary? And didn’t he believe public education of children was a waste of money because literacy for the masses was unnecessary for society to be successful? And didn’t he believe democracy was a joke?

          Or didn’t you read anything else he wrote besides the out-of-context quotes on collectives and Libertarian subjects?

          Did the rest somehow escape notice in that pulsating gelatin between your ears?

    jayjerome66 in reply to gulfbreeze. | October 16, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    Of course I know Powell’s positions.
    I’m not a Robot party follower.
    I’m the Independant Voter Who decides presidential elections.
    I want people in office who bridge the political divide between the Far Left and the Far Right.

    The Middle governs best. Powell would help elect Trump- Powell still has high favorability ratings among Republicans and Democrats. He’d attract more Black votes from Hillary (who will be the Dem candidate) then Carson if he runs for anything except dog-catcher (I bet he was a disturbed teenager who killed birds and pets as a kid – someone should check out his history to see if he has a record for juvenile delinquency).

    Powell’s reasoning about the Iran deal was correct: he said it was too late to to do anything AFTER the US and other nations had agreed to the terms. There is no advantage in being the only nation to reneg after the fact. Better to monitor Iran as much as possible, and when they prove to be cheating (a given) we then have justification to bomb the shit out of them.

    Powell is an American military hero. Anyone from any party who smears him for his political views is as unpatriotic a dickhead as those who smeared Ike for his political views.

    Trump-Powell in 2016!

      NC Mountain Girl in reply to jayjerome66. | October 17, 2015 at 3:27 pm

      Then you know o course that Powell’s default position has always been what will most enhance his reputation with the DC based media. He has poor judgement and no loyalty, not even to the nation he swore an oath to defend. In strategy meeting after strategy meaning in the war on terror all Powell ever talked about was the domestic political reaction to what others proposed. Plus he and his staff leaked like a sieve, which was fine with him as it was all meant to further burnish Powell’s media image.

      In some ways, Powell and Trump almost deserve each other.

His burn rate is insane? Carson is an atypical ‘outsider’ candidate who has to strike hard and early or he’ll be out of it. Is he supposed to save the money for when he’s handed the nomination? He has to earn it, he comes from a difficult starting spot for a presidential candidate, and he has to run like the election is always next month. That means burn it while you have it, because if you don’t you’ll be out of it and a billion on hand won’t help.

I think Ben is doing a good job. The unprogressive party is scared to death of him. He doesn’t fit the picture that they have painted for blacks in this county.He may not know everything that a Pres. needs to know, but he has proven that he is smart enough to learn quickly how to get it done. He doesn’t need all of the ” Chicago,” Nepotism that the O needs.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to bobgood1. | October 17, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    All presidents have holes in their knowledge and skill sets (some more than others, eh?). Good presidents know this, know their relative strengths and weaknesses, and hire advisory staff accordingly. This is why executive experience is generally preferred.

    I’m not sold on Carson but I do think he’d be fully capable of accurately assessing his strengths and weaknesses and compensating for them with his staff hirings.

      jayjerome66 in reply to Henry Hawkins. | October 17, 2015 at 12:29 pm

      Just you wait ‘enry ‘awkins just you wait.
      The Donald will take you to the gate!
      Though you yell and though you shout
      The Donald is going to throw you out!
      Ha Ha Ha ‘enry ‘awkins
      Just. You. Wait!