Roxanne Conlin's campaign for U.S. Senate released partial fundraising numbers today, and they are impressive:
Total cash raised (Nov. 2 - Dec. 31):
Cash on hand:
Total individual donors: 1,649 (1,395 Iowans/85% Iowans)
Online supporters signed up: Over 31,000
Donations $100 and under: 1,332
Donations $250 and under: 1,433
All of Conlin's campaign contributions came from individual supporters, because she has pledged not to accept contributions from federal lobbyists or PACs. (I wouldn't have advised her to take that stance, because there are PACs and lobbyists fighting for good things as well as those working against the public interest.) In any event, she has shown that she can raise enough money to staff and run a statewide campaign. Conlin is about a third of the way through a 99-county tour she began earlier this month.
I haven't seen year-end fundraising numbers from Senator Chuck Grassley yet. At the end of the third quarter of 2009, he had more than $4.4 million cash on hand, so clearly he will still be way ahead in the money race. During the third quarter, when Grassley played a high-profile role in health care reform negotiations, he raised $864,622 total, of which $364,295 came from political action committees.
In other words, Conlin raised more from individual donors in two months than Grassley raised from individuals during the third quarter. That's a strong pace, and it suggests a lot of Iowans are motivated to take the fight to Grassley. Conlin has already raised nearly five times as much as Democrat Art Small spent during his entire 2004 campaign against Iowa's senior senator.
I don't have new fundraising numbers from the other Democrats running against Grassley. Bob Krause raised $7,430 during the third quarter, ending with $3,493 on hand. Tom Fiegen raised $3,781 during the third quarter, ending with $519 on hand. I like many of the statements I've heard from Krause and Fiegen, but they have yet to show that they will be able to run a statewide campaign, and therefore appear to be extreme underdogs leading up to the Democratic primary in June. Neither Krause nor Fiegen seems likely to drop out of this race, however. On the contrary, Fiegen called on Conlin to quit the race last month, saying Republican attacks on her would divert attention from Grassley and the "needs of working families." Yesterday Krause criticized one of Conlin's tax credit proposals.
Grassley will be very tough to beat. His approval rating has fallen but is still above 50 percent, and he has set a goal of raising $9 million for this race. Even if Democrats don't manage to defeat Grassley, giving him a spirited challenge is well worth the effort. Driving up turnout among Democrats whom Grassley has alienated can only help our candidates down-ticket.
UPDATE: Rasmussen conducted a one-day poll of this race on January 26. Grassley leads Conlin 59 to 31, Krause 59 to 26 and Fiegen 61 to 25 (margin of error 4.5 percent).