This year’s presidential candidates are lagging their 2008 and 2012 predecessors in New Mexico fundraising.
“If money is a measure of enthusiasm for candidates, then there isn’t any,” said Lonna Atkeson, University of New Mexico political science professor and director of the Center for the Study of Voting, Elections, and Democracy.
To date, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton trails President Barack Obama’s 2012 New Mexico haul.
But her gap is much narrower than that of GOP nominee Donald Trump compared with Mitt Romney in 2012 and Sen. John McCain in 2008.
And Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, New Mexico’s former governor, trails his own 2012 fundraising within the state significantly.
That’s based on an analysis of campaign contributions through July reported to the Federal Elections Commission in each of the elections.
Here’s a look at New Mexico fundraising for presidential candidates through July in 2008, 2012 and 2016:
While Clinton lags Obama’s fundraising, the gap isn’t that large and she leads all candidates in New Mexico.
Clinton raised $1.4 million in New Mexico through July, compared with $1.5 million for Obama in 2012 and $1.9 million for Obama in 2008. Most notably, she’s out-raised Trump 6-to-1 in New Mexico.
NM “Republican machine” not showing up
Trump raised only about $232,000 in New Mexico through the end of July. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s primary fundraising in the state of nearly $415,000 still tops this year’s GOP candidates.
But Trump’s nearly 1,700 individual contributors are more than double the number of New Mexicans who contributed to either Romney’s or McCain’s campaigns. And they rival Clinton’s 1,900-plus New Mexico donors.
Those Trump contributors are giving considerably less per person, however.
“As a complete outsider to the political system, he is not connected to the big-donor Republican machine,” Atkeson said.
Atkeson also suggested the state’s big-money donors may be following the lead of Gov. Susana Martinez, the head of the Republican Governor’s Association who has declined to endorse Trump.
Martinez, Atkeson said, is “a leader in where people should put their money. She’s a cue-giver as the executive of the state. She has a very difficult relationship with Donald Trump, as do many Republican leaders across the country, and this money reflects that fact.”
Meanwhile, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian nominee, is trailing his 2012 fundraising totals in his home state, raising about $47,000 this campaign versus $188,000 by this time in 2012.
But Johnson is doing better nationally than he did four years ago.
Atkeson said she was surprised by Johnson’s relatively poor New Mexico fundraising.
“That surprises me because he’s doing really well in the polls, considering,” she said. “He’s almost at 10 percent.”
On the national front, fundraising looks better for Johnson. His campaign said last week that it raised $2.9 million nationally in the first two weeks of August, nearly doubling the $3 million raised nationally through July. That compares with $2.8 million in his entire 2012 campaign.
Of the $1.9 million raised nationally by Green Party candidate Jill Stein, less than $5,000 comes from New Mexico donors. That’s slightly better than the $1.2 million total Stein raised in 2012, with about $4,000 from New Mexicans.
Trump campaign records show no paid staff in New Mexico, compared with Clinton, who has at least one paid staffer in the state.
That doesn’t mean Trump won’t rebound in fundraising among New Mexico Republicans.
Romney, for instance, picked up the pace in August 2012, raising nearly $2.6 million from New Mexicans for the general election, bringing his total take to $3.4 million.
But McCain raised only another $379,000 in 2008, for a total of $1 million from the state in August onward.
On the Democratic side, Obama raised another $2.2 million in New Mexico in both 2012 and 2008.
In 2008, Gov. Bill Richardson raised $5.5 million from New Mexicans in his brief presidential campaign, while Clinton raised $864,000.