The much awaited figures for Michele Bachmann’s fundraising in the second quarter of the fiscal year reported today did nothing to burnish her image as the up and coming Republican. Her total of $2 million raised in the last three months plus two million more shifted from her congressional campaign account illustrated that for all of the progress her candidacy has made in the last several weeks, she seems to lack the infrastructure and staff work that more established hopefuls have already put into place. The high expectations her poll figures have produced means pulling in only $2 million has to be considered something of a disappointment.
Bachmann’s excuses for this showing will center on the fact that at the start of the quarter she barely had a campaign, let alone the sort of organization that would allow her to rake in the big bucks. Her Internet fundraising operation, key to a grass roots populist candidacy such as hers, so far lacks the sophistication and promotional efforts needed for her to harness the energy of enthusiastic Tea Party and conservative Christian backers.
If she can manage to put together a better online effort in the coming months, then she may be able to start raising the big bucks from a broad base of small contributors that could help put the nomination within reach. But if she fails to do so, this shortfall will put a brake on both her momentum and her ability to compete with the cash-rich Mitt Romney.
Having lifted herself from the second tier to leading alternative to the frontrunner in just a few weeks, Bachmann no longer has the ability to fly below the radar. The congresswoman’s fast start has set high expectations that require her to do more than just skate by. If Bachmann’s performance in the Iowa straw poll in August or the next fundraising report again falls short of what we believe a first-tier candidate must do, her hopes will suffer.