Raising Money, Lowering Expectations

National Journal gets managed

Of what value to readers is a story yesterday about what President Obama’s reelection team says it expects it will, eight weeks hence on the next quarterly fundraising filing deadline, report having raised in April, May, and June of 2011? Including what “accounts for the lower total”—shouldn’t that be the “expected lower total,” given we’re still mid-quarter here?— which is, of course, the selflessness of the reelection team?

The value of such a story to the incumbent and his team is clear. (What electionlawblog’s Rick Hasen said: “Department of Expectations Management.”)

Here’s the headline from a strangely unskeptical Marc Ambinder at National Journal yesterday: “Obama Expects Modest Fundraising Quarter” (sub-hed: “Democratic National Committee comes first—for now.”) Ambinder writes up what unnamed Obama adviser(s) have told him: that Obama’s reelection campaign will raise but a “moderate” amount this quarter (April 1 to June 30). The adviser even supplies a team-playerly reason:

campaign officials have decided to devote the bulk of their early efforts to fortifying the Democratic National Committee rather than the president’s own reelection campaign, anticipating that DNC will need to spend the money earlier.

I kept waiting for the part where Ambinder acknowledges what he undoubtedly knows: that this is all part of Team Obama’s expectations management efforts (all campaigns do it— manage down “what’s expected” of them, manage up “what’s expected” of opponents, for polls numbers, fundraising numbers, etc.). Instead, Ambinder continues to enable:

Obama advisers anticipate that the president’s campaign will face questions about whether it is on track to meet internal fundraising targets, which have not been disclosed. Inevitably, Obama’s take will be compared with Republican Mitt Romney’s because Romney is the closest thing the GOP field has to a front-runner. On Monday alone, Romney’s Nevada call-a-thon took in more than $10 million.

Knowing, courtesy of this piece, what Team Obama “expects” to raise (and why!), sort of takes the wind out of some of those anticipated future “questions,” doesn’t it?

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.