The EFM Feature

So it looks like Rudy raised more than Governor Romney this quarter. This is not terribly surprising. The frontrunner should be raising a lot of money. But what does surprise me, frankly, is the almighty drubbing that the Democrats are putting on the Republicans in the fundraising battles. I have been hearing for some time about the Democrats being more “energized,” about how the Democrats are becoming the majority party of the very rich and of the professional classes, and about how Republican donors seem a bit fatigued. Well, it looks like it might all be true.
And Republicans should be concerned. Very concerned.
It is not easy to raise money when the party’s standard-bearer is looking at polling numbers previously reserved only for the likes of Darth Vader or Barry Bonds and when Republicans are now fighting amongst themselves over the war and immigration. The Republicans I talk to are more dispirited than any time I can remember since November/December 1996 (when Bob Dole went down in flames).
For social conservatives, this is a particularly dangerous time. A dispirited party is more likely to pick the “electable” candidate than the candidate who personifies their principles and values. Confident parties run on their principles. Desperate parties run on their celebrities. Hence the appeal of both Rudy (who is outside the mainstream of his party on virtually every social issue and has a spotty–at best–economic record) and Fred (who has never run anything more complex than a law office and now wants to run the country).
At this point, the financial numbers are the only concrete numbers we have. And what do they tell us? Four things:
(1) The Democrats have the energy and momentum;
(2) John McCain has hit the iceberg, and he’s taking on water;
(3) Rudy and Romney are the class of the Republican field; and
(4) Fred Thompson’s capabilities have been–and remain–a mystery.
We’ll know much more by the end of the next quarter. Fred Thompson will have to make the difficult transformation from “idealized alternative” to “actual candidate,” the Ames straw poll results will preview the candidates’ strength in Iowa, and Barack Obama will have had three more months of to batter away at Hillary’s donor base.
My predictions? Fred will disappoint, Rudy will stay strong, Hillary’s sense of inevitability will fade even further, McCain will linger, and the conservative base will start to coalesce behind Romney.

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