February 04, 2014

Did #WendyDavis actually outraise #GregAbbott? Not so fast, including you, BOR (updated)

(Update, Feb. 5: Let's see how Burnt Orange Report, the Angle Bros. et al spin THIS, namely, how badly Greg Abbott kicked Wendy Davis' butt in January fundraising. And now, back to your original blog post.)

It sounds like it, right? In the July-December 2013 period, Wendy Davis outraised Greg Abbott in fundraising for the Texas governor's race, by $12.2 million to $11.5 million.

Not so fast. Here's the fine print on that:
The senator's campaign finance totals include funds raised by the Texas Victory Committee, a joint effort that splits money between the Davis campaign and Battleground Texas, a group trying to turn Texas blue.
So, how much money did SHE raise? (As well as how much cash does she have on hand?)

Answer? Per the Snooze, some $3.5 million of the total is from the Texas Victory Committee. Split that in half between her and Battleground Texas, and her $12.2 million falls to $10.5 million. Still impressive, no doubt about it. But not Greg Abbott's $11.5 million.

Burnt Orange Report decides to join in the spinning:
To call the Texas Victory Committee a "split" between Wendy Davis and Battleground Texas suggests that she won't be the recipient of all of the money. That doesn't accurately convey how the money is to be used -- it will be used by Battleground to elect Wendy Davis. She will be on the receiving end of the electioneering paid for with that fund.  
Nice, but ... not true!

Let's say the Texas Republican Party created an alternative to Battleground Texas called, oh, Attack for Liberty. Attack for Liberty and Greg Abbott's campaign then formed Texas Liberty Committee.

And, Texas Liberty Committee raised $3.5M and claimed that as part of his $11.5M?

Don't tell me BOR wouldn't be on that like white on rice. Because, Abbott, Attack for Liberty and the Texas Liberty Committee would be using the exact same explainers it trots out.

That said, BOR does have a live blog of actual, Texas Ethics Commission-filed donations, for all major candidates, with figures also including cash on hand.

And, the January numbers are reflective. Maybe national pro-choice groups are backing off, if David is "prolife." Or national LGBT groups are backing off because Davis allegedly doesn't have time for their endorsement questionnaires (really, she's running away from that, too), but does have time for one from the Morning News, and surely other mainstream papers.

Meanwhile, nobody's claimed that Abbott's money was co-raised with a third party. Because, if it were, BOR would be critiquing Abbott just like I just critiqued Davis.

That includes you, Michael Li, from BOR's story:
Amused by the spin on Wendy Davis' fundraising numbers by GOP operatives who understand exactly what a joint fundraising committee is.
— Michael Li (@mcpli) January 1
Amused you think everybody critiquing this is a GOP operative. If you've got goods on Abbott money coming from a joint fundraising committee, feel free to mention it. 

Beyond that, I've had a bit of a shootout with at least one GOP consultant vs. other blogging on this site. Per my day job, I'm familiar with all of this. 

Beyond that, at times, per the title of this blog, I like being a deliberate contrarian. Or, in this case, a deliberate nit-picker, or whatever you want. So, keep spinning, and I'll keep blogging about it. 

Don't get me wrong. Li knows the legal issues around things such as the redistricting fight. But, he's still spinning on this. 

Now, I see Harold Cook joined the spinning, too. I get where Cook is coming from. However, I'll venture that if we went to every Abbott event, we might see plenty where the Texas GOP was listed as a separate recipient of funds, or whatever.

Finally, the Texas Ethics Commission has the official numbers. And the filing doesn't count the Texas Victory Committee as part of Davis' totals. It's $11.6M for Abbott and $8.7M for Davis.

Jonathan Tilove at the Statesman rounds up the reality on the spinning. And adds:
The most obvious manipulation in the Davis campaign's late release of its fundraising numbers was a spin of omission - its failure to report how much money it burned in the reporting period and how much money it has in the bank going into 2014. Abbott, whose campaign put out its numbers 20 minutes after the Davis campaign put out its numbers, reported that it has $27 million in cash on hand, which will probably prove to be three or four or more times as much as Davis will report today.
Bingo. And, the transparency of a lot of this spinning is laughable. So, too, is the faux indignation of a Michael Li. As for saying Romney and Obama did this, fine. If Abbott did, too, we'll find out in the official Texas Ethics Commission wash. One of the oldest reporting tricks in the book, Michael. Mark Twain would have a field day with modern finance numbers.

And, assuming Abbott does use third-party joint fundraising, you bet your ass he'll report combined numbers from here on out, anyway.

And, Cook, at least, concedes as much:
If Greg Abbott’s team doesn’t want Wendy Davis to claim as part of her fundraising totals that money which she is contributing to a coordinated effort, then Greg Abbott should subtract from his totals whatever amount he anticipates he will eventually contribute to the Republican coordinated effort. If, in the alternative, he is raising money directly into his coordinated effort, as Davis has done, he should have counted it as part of his total – assuming he hasn’t co-mingled that money with that of other Republican candidates who are also contributing to the Republican effort.
So, let's just wait until the next fundraising cycle, and compare apples and apples.

And, this is where my day job in the press biz kicked in long ago, and takes precedence here over progressive politics. If Abbott had done the same, I'd have kicked him even harder, since he's a conservative, and it's not his first statewide race.

But, comparing apples and apples? Abbott won. Period. End of story. Can we stop with other claims?

In short, a short-term spin could backfire down the road. Assuming it does, we'll see what Li, Cook, et al have to say.

I mean, I've blogged a lot of baseball stuff, for and against certain players' candidacies for the Hall of Fame. Trust me, I've seen numbers and statistics sliced more different ways than 99-cent bologna.

If I wanted to drill down enough, I could probably find that Abbott outraised Davis in some ZIP code in her state Senate district. Or that Davis outraised Abbott among left-handers who live within 300 yards of the Ben Franklin store in Duncanville where they idolize him to death.

So, if you want to be technical, because Abbott chose not to slice and dice his bologna some way, because he wasn't worried about Davis getting that close to him, she "won." Wave your hands in the air, Battleground Texas. If Abbott's really worried about this, he'll find a way to spin your numbers into the grave in the next reporting cycle or two. 

And, to be honest, I dig my heels back in on issues like this. Part of it may be "motivated reasoning" on my part, given that nobody likes to stake out a stance then be proven wrong. On the other hand, Cook opened the window himself, with his caveats, essentially admitting this was at least semi-spin, though he refuses to take the extra step of admission.

And, speaking of, I've exchanged enough tweets with Li on this. On my last one, I told him to talk to Tilove, or Jay Root at the Trib. None of us are "GOP operatives." You, Michael, on the other hand, ARE a Democratic operative, even if not officially affiliated with the Davis campaign. And, Cook, a political PR meister, has nothing about this on his blog, either.

Oh, and this also gets at one thing Perry talked about. Davis, like Dear Leader, wasn't supposed to be about politics as usual. But, between this and her David Alameel endorsement, she indeed appears to be Just.Another.Politician.™, and the Michael Lis of the world probably don't want to talk about that at all.

Besides, Bill White outraised Rick Perry at times four years ago. And, we all know how that turned out.

If the last few presidential campaigns have shown us anything, it's that fundraising itself, and how it's framed and phrased, has itself become political gamesmanship.

Get a TV and Internet 30-second, or 15-second, sound bite of one-upsmanship, then get everybody to move on before the details are announced.

Or, if you want an even blunter reminder of how fundraising prowess doesn't always translate into political success? Phil Gramm for president. Before him, John Connally for president. 

P. Diddie has more thoughts along this vein. And goes the next step down the road:
Wendy Davis is on pace to amass the fifty million dollars all the talking heads said she needed to raise in order to have a chance to beat "Wheelchair Ken".  In other words, if she loses then she won't be able to say she couldn't raise enough money as an excuse.

I have contributed to her campaign, and I sincerely hope she doesn't lose.  But I also don't see any deviation from a path we have trod for decades now, which shows not even the smallest sign of changing the kind of government we have.  The one that gets bought and paid for every two years.Wendy Davis is on pace to amass the fifty million dollars all the talking heads said she needed to raise in order to have a chance to beat "Wheelchair Ken".  In other words, if she loses then she won't be able to say she couldn't raise enough money as an excuse.

I have contributed to her campaign, and I sincerely hope she doesn't lose.  But I also don't see any deviation from a path we have trod for decades now, which shows not even the smallest sign of changing the kind of government we have.  The one that gets bought and paid for every two years.
Yep, and that's why he, and I, worry about ...

I agree with Perry on the money, but it's more than just that. Spinning like this is sophomoric. People who know a lot about politics see through it right away, and call you out on it. Then you have people like Michael Li and Harold Cook doubling down on spinning.

And so, instead of a new type of politics, we have the same old shit. And, I've had tussles with consultant types from the GOP side before, not liking it when I called them out. (Last time over there was for non-monetary reasons, but I still called GOP shit what it was. And gave the same answer as to Li, and now Cook: This is the media part of me operating.)

Beyond the political gamesmanship, this gets back to the question of her endorsement of Texas' latest Democratic Daddy Warbucks, David Alameel, in the Senate primary.

What's in it for her to endorse a candidate worth $50 million or more, but one who hasn't revealed his stances on a single major political issue? 

Oh, and I asked Li about this. While trying to spin every which way but loose the news about Davis' and Abbott's campaign contributions, I got bupkis in reply from him about her Alameel endorsement, when I tweeted suggesting he ask about that. 

Finally, given the fact that she sued the Startlegram and its corporate parents after losing her 2006 Fort Worth City Council race, I'm thinking more and more we're at the Politics of Usual. More reason than ever to vote Green in the general election if we've got Republicans and Democrats alike offering up a pair of overlawyering lawyers. 

Now, I don't buy into wingnuts taking her "mental health was affected" statement as part of filing as part of a claim she has actual mental health problems. That's not my angle.

No, I'm just, as I read more about the suit, raising my eyebrows higher and higher over what appears to be overlawyering mixed with cluelessness about the First Amendment, a thin skin, or something.

She sued over editorials, my friends, not news stories.

Now, I've primarily been at small-town newspapers, but much of my time has been near the Metroplex. And, at least immediately, I cannot recall any other candidate who has lost a race and then sued over opinion articles.

Good fucking doorknob. 

I am linking to National Review's story, knowing it's not trotting out the Eric Erickson angle but is seemingly giving a halfway fair overview. I'm trying teh Google to see if I can find a link to any StartleGram stories about the suit after its final disposition.

Yeah, wingnuts may be worried about the likelihood of her success. But, as some currently in the media, I'm pretty sure I don't want a Junior Barack Obama, in terms of attitude toward the First Amendment, running the state.

And, I've now found a copy of the actual editorial. I'll be doing a follow-up post, and the hell if I don't make any progressive writers' groups.

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