Ben Carson Feels the Burn Rate

Erick Ericsson reports:

Carson has a problem beneath the polling numbers — his fundraising.

Everyone focused on Carson’s “impressive $20.8 million in the third quarter“, but few noticed that he burned through $14 million of it with $11 million going to raise the $20.8 million.

That’s pretty substantial. More problematic, Carson has built his fundraising engine on a direct mail program. Direct mail programs take a long time to become sustainable. Long term, Carson will be doing fine off direct mail. But in the short term, i.e. next year, Carson is going to have trouble.

What people do not realize about direct mail is that the costs are front loaded. Candidates spend a great deal of money building a mail file, harvesting a mail file, recycling a mail file, and harvesting again. The printing, postage, and commissions take a lot. In some cases, the candidates do not even have direct access to the mail file, which the mail house keeps until debts are paid.

To be sure, this is not money Carson has to work for. They keep churning letters and senior citizens keep writing checks. It is a win-win. But it also inflates what he has actually raised.

I can tell you his email fundraising efforts are strictly amateur hour. I get three of everything, including the rare “personalized” message. And when I say everything, I mean just that — the Carson campaign sends out alerts to people in Colorado about his next perusal appearance in South Carolina or wherever. There’s no little tailoring and zero filtering.

Finally, I had to create a mail handling rule to send all the Carson stuff directly to the circular file.

It’s no bold prediction that if Carson gets the nomination, Clinton’s high-tech, Google-powered machine will clean the floor with him.