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Yeah, Yeah, Yeah: The Connolly Cliche

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Anti-Romney and anti-Giuliani bloggers/posters can’t get enough of the “John Connolly beat Ronald Reagan in fundraising in the 1980 primaries and still only got one delegate” meme.

The problem is, the analysis isn’t even remotely persuasive.

John Connolly rejected federal matching funds in 1979-80 and raised and spent approximately $10 million in his entire campaign for the GOP nomination, which was a complete failure.

By contrast, Ronald Reagan did accept the federal funds, but Reagan also raised, received and spent $9 million by the end of January, 1980 –with the New Hampshire primary still three weeks away.

Reagan had enormous advantages going in, and one of them was a willingness to spend his available funds for early wins.  He simply wasn’t outspent by Connolly.

I expect Romney, Giuliani, and McCain, as well as all the Democrats with cash, to be using the money, not hoarding it, and thus the comparisons with any previous campaign cycle will be absurd from start to finish.  We have never seen anything like this amount of money hit this early. 

But the sideline candidates are very far behind the curve at this point, and playing Hamlet for another three months won’t help them at all.  The numbers today add urgency to the Thompson/Gingrich deliberations.  If they are going to go, they are going to have to get going. 

Like Ronald Reagan, who started running about the day after Carter beat Ford.Reagan won the old fashioned way –he earned it by campaigning hard and long.

UPDATE: From K-Lo at The Corner:

Team Romney is enthused by the fundraising numbers and confident they indicate a success story. A source close to Romney tells NRO that the 1st-quarter numbers come out of their candidate’s “strong organization and one-on-one appeal as a strong leader who has a proven track record in tackling big challenges.”

The source stresses: “People are learning about his strong record of cutting the budget; vetoing hundreds of bills, proving the liberal elites who said he would have to raise taxes wrong, and fighting for traditional values in the bluest of blue states. People understand he’s someone with the ability to change Washington.”

The source also points to Romney’s other March wins – with activists in the CPAC poll, National Journal’s Republican insiders poll, a well-received Club for Growth speech on economic issues, and “star turn” at the Gridiron – as added signs he is here to stay. And that conservatives like Jim DeMint, Tom Feeney, Larry Craig, Jim McCrery, and Marsha Blackburn, among others have signed up is further evidence.

“This candidate has staying power and is doing all the day to day hard work across the board to run a strong and competitive campaign that brings together the Reagan coalition of social, economic, and foreign-policy mainstream conservatives.”


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