Gentry Collins, political director of the Republican National Committee, has resigned. His parting letter is aptly described by Politico as a “stinging indictment of Chairman Michael Steele’s two-year tenure at the committee.”
According to Collins, the RNC’s weak fundraising meant that it couldn’t afford to run an independent expenditure ad campaign on behalf of their candidates, didn’t fund a paid voter turnout operation for Senate and gubernatorial races, left its vaunted 72-Hour turnout program effectively unfunded, offered only a fraction of the direct-to-candidate financial contributions they made four years ago, and dramatically scaled back its support of state parties. Citing a study, Collins maintains that the GOP could have won the Washington and Colorado Senate races with a better field operation. He also blames narrow defeats in gubernatorial races in Connecticut, Minnesota and Vermont on the same lack of funds for a ground game.
The fundraising figures Collins cites are pretty stark:
In the last two non-presidential cycles of 2002 and 2006, the RNC raised $284 million and $243 million respectively. So far this cycle, the RNC has reported raising just $170 million. Less than $18 million (10.53%) of that total came from contributions of $1,000 or more, collected from a mere 5,379 donors. This is a fraction of either the previous cycles.
To be sure, the Republicans held the White Houlse in 2002 and 2006. But this was probably a mixed blessing for fundraising purposes in 2006. Given the pro-Republican environment of 2010, the RNC’s 2010 fundraising numbers seem poor, indeed.
What happened, I believe, is that the big money donors largely avoided the RNC due to reports of waste and mismanagement on the part of Steele and his staff. That money went to groups like American Crossroads.
These groups, of course, were huge players during this cycle. But it’s hardly a defense of Steele to suggest that the money that avoided him still found its way into the Republican cause. The Party needs an RNC that inspires confidence and, as a result, can successfully raise the funds needed to support its core election operations.
Let’s hope that the Collins letter is the last nail in Steele’s RNC coffin.