It’s not hard to find Laura Morrison signs in yards around Austin. She clearly has a constituency among politically active Austinites, particularly middle-aged and older residents active in neighborhood politics.
But it doesn’t look like Morrison has raised the money needed to introduce herself to the masses. A week before Election Day and it doesn’t look like the former Council member has gotten on the air with her message. Nor has she spent significantly on online advertising.
In the last month Morrison raised $17.5k, bringing her year total to about $160k, including the $25k she loaned her campaign. Technically that is more than enough money to buy some significant advertising online and on TV, but it looks like Morrison has thus far decided that she’d rather dedicate her limited funds to staff and print ads. In the final month before Election Day, Morrison spent about $20k on print advertisements, t-shirts and yard signs. She spent another $11k on staff, consultants, and voter research. The remaining $6k was spent on miscellaneous expenses (food, events etc). No TV ads. No radio ads. No big digital buys.
Adler’s campaign is another world entirely. In the same period his campaign spent about $50k on staff and consulting (including $12.5k for polling), $47k on digital ads, $68k on TV ads and $5.8k on print/signs. And that was following a previous month where he spent significantly as well. And that was following another $200k spending spree in September.
The contrast between the two campaigns is a neat illustration of the important role of money in elections. And it shows what an enormous advantage candidates who are able to self-finance have.
The good news is that this time around Adler’s major fundraising advantage is not due to his own wealth (he has lent nothing to his campaign), but the sheer number of people he could get to contribute $350 (the max) to his campaign.
The downside, Morrison fans would argue, is that the strict cap on contributions makes it much harder to challenge an incumbent because it’s so hard to raise money. I wrote about that dilemma for the Chronicle about three years ago.