Posted on | March 16, 2012 | 99 Comments
It’s Friday night and the Missouri caucuses are Saturday. Newt Gingrich isn’t even on the ballot in Missouri, which will award 52 delegates. There was a Missouri primary in February but, because of legislative hassles, that vote was officially “non-binding.” However, Rick Santorum won that primary with 55 percent of the vote — nearly a 30-point margin over Mitt Romney — and today’s caucuses will certainly ratify Santorum’s victory.
Maybe Missourians are still sore about 1838, who knows?
My point is that Santorum is about to put another one in the “W” column, the seventh state he will have won this month: Tennessee, Oklahoma and North Dakota on March 6, Kansas on March 10, Alabama and Mississippi on Tuesday, and now Missouri.
It’s important to say this, because none of the reporters, analysts or commentators on Fox News are going to tell you that Santorum’s on a winning streak, because they are indeed biased against him.
Now, let’s talk about Newt Gingrich. Ace headlined this:
Which is both cruel, and a fairly accurate summary of this:
Asked on CBS’s This Morning “under what circumstances” he would end his campaign before the convention, Gingrich responded: “Probably none.” He told host Charlie Rose, “I’ll be with you in Tampa, Charlie,” adding, “I have 176,000 donors at Newt.org. They want me to stay in the race.”
Hey, Newt, how many online donors did Herman Cain have before he dropped out? Lots. Rick Perry? Lots. Maybe not 176,000, but lots.
Gingrich is counting donors cumulatively, going back to late November and December, before any actual voting took place, when he was No. 1. On Dec. 13, Newt led Romney by more than 12 points, 35% to 22.3% in the Real Clear Politics average of national polls. It also includes the comeback period in January when Newt got a bump from his Jan. 21 win in South Carolina and, once again, bounced up to a lead (RCP average 31.3%-27% as of Jan. 27) in the national polls.
While he was on top, or at least a viable contender, Gingrich collected online donors by the tens of thousands, but that was “front-runner” money. Those donors were bandwagon-jumpers who thought they were giving money to The Man Who Could Beat Mitt.
And those people aren’t giving money any more because in the past six weeks it has become apparent that Newt can’t beat Mitt.
Gingrich lost Florida Jan. 31 and lost Nevada Feb. 7, and was 0-for-3 on Feb. 7, when he was third in Colorado, fourth in Minnesota and, as previously noted, failed to make the ballot in Missouri. Newt was fourth in Maine (7%) on Feb. 11; on Feb. 28 he was third in Arizona (16%) and fourth in Michigan (7%); and on March 3 he was fourth in Washington State (10%). On Super Tuesday, March 6, Gingrich recorded third-place finishes in Ohio, Tennessee and Oklahoma, and was fourth in Alaska (14%), North Dakota (9%), Vermont (8%), Massachusetts (5%) and Idaho (2%). On March 10, he was third in Kansas and fourth in Wyoming (1%).
In case you lost count, since Feb. 7, Gingrich has placed third in five states and placed fourth in 10 states, for a total of 15 third- or fourth-place finishes in the past six weeks. You can add in the balance against all those electoral embarrassments Newt’s lone victory in his home state of Georgia on March 6, but that was completely offset by his defeats Tuesday in Mississippi and Alabama, two states his campaign had previously called “must-wins.”
Newt is clearly no longer The Man Who Could Beat Mitt.
He is now The Guy Who Usually Finishes Fourth, and the vast majority of his previous donors aren’t going to pay a dime for that kind of action. They thought they were giving money to a winner, you see, and they’re not going to follow him down the rabbit hole of Wishful Thinking.
There is also the telltale silence of Team Newt about their February fundraising numbers. On Feb. 29, the Santorum campaign told the Associated Press they had raised $9 million in February from 100,000 donors. A week later, the Romney campaign said they’d raised $11.5 million in February.
Gingrich? Crickets chirping.
That silence tells us a lot, but not nearly as much as we’ll learn next week when the official FEC numbers for February are available. What we know, however, is that the Gingrich campaign ended January with cash on hand of $1,788,590, but with debts of $1,726,085, so that their net balance (minus debt) was just $62,505.
By comparison, Santorum’s cash on hand at the end of January was $1,474,064 against debts of $956,701, for a net balance of $517,363.
This is simply astonishing: In the month where Gingrich scored his biggest success (the Jan. 21 South Carolina primary win), somehow his “burn rate” was so high that it vastly exceeded his contributions. Gingrich spent $16.4 million in January, while raising only $5.5 million. Meanwhile the underdog Santorum finished the month with a balance (minus debts) more than eight times greater than Gingrich’s!
With that in mind, what do you think Gingrich’s financial report for February is going to tell us? And how do you think his March fundraising is going so far, given his inability to win Alabama or Mississippi, and his third- and fourth-places finishes nearly everywhere else this month?
Newt’s not going to be able to reverse this perception by scoring any wins any time soon. He’s not on the ballot Saturday in Missouri and won’t finish better than third Sunday in Puerto Rico. Polls indicate Gingrich will finish third in Illinois on Tuesday. That brings us to Lousiana next Saturday, March 24: One poll last week showed Gingrich third there, too. Gingrich was in Louisiana today, begging:
NEW ORLEANS — Newt Gingrich is asking supporters for donations as small as $2.50 to keep his GOP presidential campaign going.
The former House speaker told a New Orleans audience Friday that he can’t raise as much money as front-runner Mitt Romney can. But he said he is gaining 500 to 1,000 new donors a day. He said many of them give small but that he welcomes amounts that might lead to larger contributions later
He’s already desperate, and when the February financial reports are made public, showing a campaign that is essentially bankrupt, whatever little puddles of hope Gingrich has been able to sell to those “500 to 1,000 new donors a day” (a dubious claim) will evaporate almost instantly. If Newt then loses March 24 in Louisiana, it’s over.
UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers! And thanks to the commenter who called my attention to a Feb. 17 article by Luke Rosiak of The Washington Times:
When Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign disclosed in October that it planned to pay the candidate $70,000, the transfer was unusual for a campaign committee. But weeks ago, the former House speaker revised his bill for the third quarter: He actually expected to personally receive $115,000 to reimburse himself for expenses during that period.
The campaign would not explain how the candidate forgot about and then found $45,000 in receipts. Far beyond that payment, the destinations of dollars donated to Mr. Gingrich’s campaign are being obscured by the unprecedented use of a clearly prohibited tactic, The Washington Times found — one that has accompanied the flow of the better part of $1 million in unexplained cash to Mr. Gingrich, family members and top staffers. . . .
Read the whole thing. How I missed that article last month, I don’t know, nor do I know what the explanation for such unusal accounting might be. But one can imagine that it raised eyebrows among the big-money donors. Newt would probably dismiss such financial questions as coming from “the elite media.”
UPDATE II: My attempted humor about Missouri’s less-than-exemplary history of religious tolerance has generated some less than mirthful comments from those who sympathize with the plight of 19th-century Mormons. But my mild jest about 1838 could never rival the studied cruelty of Allahpundit’s well-aimed shot at Gingrich: