August 21, 2016

Can I get some better math analysis than "Trump Has Strong Fundraising Month, but Doesn't Catch up to Clinton"?

That's the headline at ABC, and I think it fails to capture the dynamics of the relationship between the fundraising and the rate of spending. I can't do the math myself, but let me see if I can get you to do a problem for me.

Trump raised $36.7 million in July, after raising $20 million in June, and $3 million in May. So there's a path of increase in money-raising.

But Clinton raised more money in each of those months $52.3 million in July, $36.4 million in June, and $26.4 million raised in May. Her money-raising is increasing too, but not at the same rate.

Then there is the rate of spending, reflected by how much cash is left on hand: Trump has $38 million and Clinton has $58.5 million. And we also know that Clinton spent $38.2 million in July while Trump spent $18.5 million.

Can you use those numbers to say some sophisticated things about whether Trump has caught up to Clinton? I'm sorry I can't do my own math, but I can at least see the application for math here. My intuition says that Trump actually has caught up — more than caught up — if the numbers are understood realistically. Thanks in advance for helping me explore this intuition.


buwaya puti said...

Trump probably gets more for his dollar, so theres that as well.
Anyway, as gross numbers go, he has not caught up, yet, as he has less available to spend and this wont change until his monthly take in absolute numbers matches Clinton.
Also, this is only a small part of the whole story anyway, as non-campaign entities are spending also, I supect in much larger amounts. And these heavily favor Clinton.
The right wing is being massively underspent.

Ann Althouse said...

Yeah, but I want to see some calculations.

I know he has less and he spends less, but how does the relative fundraising over the last 3 months compare to the relative spending?

traditionalguy said...

Or if we say the winner is the one who has raised more dollars per promise made to each million dollar plus mega-donor those dollars raised figures represent, then Trump's Movement has stomped the Clinton pay to play system.

Fabi said...

It looks like they both have about $20 million left at the end of July, Ann.

PBandJ_LeDouanier said...

Althouse is into derivatives. It seems that DJT has more greatly increased the rate at which his dough pile is growing.

Still, less dough is less dough. Just sayin.

traditionalguy said...

Somebody call Scott Adams. He says it's the system that raises your odds of success. And Jeb!already proved that money collected for negative ads doe not win votes for a bad candidate.

cyrus83 said...

The numbers are a little ambiguous. Trump is growing his fundraising at a faster clip than Clinton is, yet in July, Trump's trend line dipped a little bit, only raising $16.7M more in July than June, while June was $17.0M more than May. Meanwhile, Clinton increased her margin to $15.9M more in July than June, a better rate than the $10.0M improvement in June over May.

A difference of only $20M cash on hand shouldn't really be significant down the stretch unless one campaign starts to really dominate the fundraising from here on out, so I guess by that metric Trump has "caught up" to a point where money really shouldn't be a factor, so long as he holds his own for the duration.

The Hillary campaign looks slightly more vulnerable to a cash crunch, they only had enough cash on hand for 45 days at the end of July, while Trump had about 60 days cash on hand based on the burn rate for July.

Fernandinande said...

Trump will raise (US GDP =) $18 trillion in 31,764,743 days.

PBandJ_LeDouanier said...

"if the numbers are understood realistically."

In addition to looking for differential equations, here Althouse feels compelled to assert that we can't use imaginary numbers. OTOH, it may take some sort of muliti-dimension wave function w/ imaginary numbers to get the result she wants: DJT is the winner.

David Smith said...

Since I retired I have sworn off fancy math tricks, but I will go this far (looking only at July - I paid folks to do calculus when I was working).

What counts here, IMHO, is the burn rate. HRC burned $38.2M with income of $52.3M, or 136% of burn. DJT burned $18.5 with income of $36.7, or 198% of burn.

So, if what she'd doing isn't enough, at the present rate of burn and income, HRC can increase her effort by about a third, while DJT can double his.

And, at the moment, he seems to be back within the margin of error in the most recent polls as they come in, so for now she's more likely to need to bump things up than he is.

Back of my envelope says that, money-wise, he's in healthier shape.

David said...

The key piece you're missing is that Trump is spending his money on raising money, paying his own companies, and hats, while Clinton is spending her money on paying staff, field organizing, and running commercials. Clinton will get a return on investment of her money of winning the election, while trample end up with a really big really valuable list of donors to use in the future. As they say in Jewish, everything else is commentary.

Fabi said...

Was the $58M/$38M cash-on-hand before or after July expenditures? If after, then Clinton has a $20M advantage. If not, it's roughly even.

David said...

"Trample" should be "Trump will".

buwaya puti said...

There are too many unknowns in the overall resource balance to say anything meaningful. Efficiency, spending by other entities, contributions in kind (like that of the state-owned media and partisan GOTV).
What the campaign itself raises and spends seems just a minor factor.

PBandJ_LeDouanier said...


You can still take a stab at it. It'll be meaningless, but not much more so than a lot of climate change modeling.

Throw all the variables into equations, make some assumptions for missing data, and Althouse will never know better. Just make sure DJT comes out on top!

John said...

The math is pretty simple:

Trump has spent about a third of what Clinton has and is running neck and neck. A couple points ahead according to

Clinto has to get people to give her cash. This takes time and effort. She just lost 2 days when she could have been campaigning to do fundraisers. There is a dollar cost to fundraising. She might have to spend 20% of anything she raises just to raise the money. (Don't know the percentage, it could be more or less)

Clinton donors have already given a lot to her struggling campaign. At some point, they will say enough. I have no idea what that point is but it is a finite amount.

Trump has plenty of cash on hand. The significant advantage he has is a big wallet. If he wants to spend $2-300mm out of his own pocket, he can. (I don't know if he wants to) In other words, he doesn't have to worry about offending potential donors and he doesn't have to worry about fundraising.

At this point, there is no need for him to put more cash in beyond the $50mm he has already. He can just put it in as needed. I put no importance on his campaign's cash on hand.

I put a lot of importance on Crooked Hilary's cash on hand.

John Henry

rehajm said...

Clinton will get a return on investment of her money of winning the election

In big national elections money is correlated not causative. More popular candidates get the dough, they don't lose to less popular opponents who outraise them.

More popular is always relative, of course.

MaxedOutMama said...

Ann - if Trump and Clinton were to continue to spend at their current rates, Trump would have two months covered while Clinton has only a month and a half. But I believe Trump is just now buying political ads, in late August.

Still, the reality was that Trump doesn't have money because he wasn't raising money - his fundraising only started in July. Until then, there wasn't even a "donate" button on his website.

So, it's hard to tell. This is an asymmetrical publicity campaign, and we will just have to see how that works out. So far, it is far to say that Trump has spent stunningly little for each voter compared to Clinton. Now it is going to get more expensive - he has to roll about 5% to be sure of winning.

cubanbob said...

Let's see how the polls look after Labor Day. Then things get real.

wildswan said...

David Smith said:
"What counts here, IMHO, is the burn rate. HRC burned $38.2M with income of $52.3M, or 136% of burn. DJT burned $18.5 with income of $36.7, or 198% of burn.
So, if what she'd doing isn't enough, at the present rate of burn and income, HRC can increase her effort by about a third, while DJT can double his."

The money question fades into whether Trump is closing the gap in the polls by his increases in funding and spending or whether Clinton is opening the gap that exists in her favor. It's my belief that Clinton got a poll jump when the Convention closed and the Sanders people realized it was over for them. Then there was a news pile-on. So, to me, Clinton's spending isn't doing much just as Jeb Bush's didn't do much. Now as summer ends, Clinton's lead will shrink. But will it shrink fast enough for Trump to win? and is the issue how much money is spent on ads, etc.? This is an unusual campaign.

Trump is pounding his issues into people's heads and Hillary as President will not be able to ignore them. But as a campaigner she is ignoring them and evidently has no plan as President except to continue with the program she and Bill started in 1990's. That program is very dated and inadequate. Like her ideas on server security - "the Secret Service was all around the house, no one could have gotten in the closet where the servers were." Oh sure.

Jupiter said...

Um, Althouse, 58.5 > 38. If you insist upon a calculation, 58.5 - 38 = 20, which is a positive number. So Clinton is ahead. Do you mean that you want some numerological mumbo jumbo to make the matter appear less simple than it really is? I suppose there are plenty of people willing to oblige you.

Hari said...

Using the numbers provided, we can conclude the following:

Clinton: Start July = $44.4 + $52.3 raised - $38.2 spent = $58.5 End July (up $14.1)
Trump: Start July = $19.8 + $36.7 raised - $18.5 spent = $38.0 End July (up $18.2)

At the start of July, Clinton had $24.6 more cash than Trump
At the end of July, Clinton had $20.3 more cash than Trump

To a large extent, it is irrelevant what was raised and spent in the past. What matters is what they have going forward. Obviously as of the end of July, Clinton has more cash on hand. She also seems to be spending faster.

If both were to raise the same and spend the same in July as they did in August, Clinton would finish August with $72.6 and Trump would finish August with $56.2 ($16.4 less than Clinton). If the pattern repeated again in September, Clinton would enter October with $86.7 and Trump would enter October with $74.4 for the final month or so.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

In politics, if you want to believe Trump has caught up, then he has and the math is irrelevant.

khematite said...

Trump probably doesn't actually need to catch up with Clinton's campaign spending. Candidates need "enough," not "more than." There's a point of diminishing returns so that past a certain point, additional campaign spending becomes merely wasted money.

A pretty good example of that occurred in the 2009 NYC mayoralty race, when Mike Bloomberg spent well over $100 million and Bill Thompson, his Democratic opponent, spent only about $8 million. Yet the final vote split had Bloomberg winning only by 50.7%-46.3%. Thompson almost certainly didn't need to spend more than Bloomberg to win; he needed to spend enough to win--but he didn't have it to spend.

eric said...

It also depends on what they are spending their money on.

I think television ads are mostly a waste of money at this point.

Get out of the vote probably provides the most bang for your buck. If Hillary is spending to make sure that Trump gets 0 percent of the vote in 50+ wards in Philly this year, it's probably money well spent. If she is spending money to make sure immigrants (Not the ones who have become US Citizens) are going to illegally vote, it's money well spent. If she is spending money to get college kids to drive their grandparents who are senile to the polls and "Help" them vote, it's money well spent.

Big Mike said...

Trump is a showman who knows how to generate free publicity and buzz. Hillary Clinton has mostly cloistered herself, and the one commercial that I've seen is pretty lame. If she's running not to lose, then probably she will lose.

For the sake of the nation I hope so.

Paul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul said...

And what if, in the last 4 weeks, Trump puts in 1/2 a BILLION of his own money? Half a Billion just to flood the airways of really bad stuff on Hillary, and really good stuff on Trump.

No law says he can't spend his money on himself... What would Hillary do, cash in the Clinton Foundation?

D. said...

Here's another clueless lawyer

>Trump’s finally raising money, but is he spending it?<

PBandJ_LeDouanier said...

Since nobody is doing real math for Althouse I'll steal some inspiration from Fischer and Myron:

dH/dt + (1/2)(s^2)(T^2)(d^2H/dT^2)+(r)(T)(dH/dT)-r*H = Trump has caught up

H is HRC's dough change
T is DJT's dough
r is the HRC fraud factor

D. said...

>Since nobody is doing real math for Althouse<

Here's another math problem:

>What happened to those $ millions from the Bernie Sanders campaign?<

rhhardin said...

Mathematics Made Difficult, Carl Linderholm, "Guess the Next Number"

A great deal of what we learn at school is of little use in later life. This is especially true of mathematics. Beyond the most basic arithmetic, which does have a use in checking the bill in a restaurant, there is very little that is ever used again except by specialists. A knowledge of probability theory is handy for an undertaker, so that he can work out when his customers are likely to need him; a little topological group representation theory is not amiss if you happen to end up a quantum mechanic, repairing other peoples' quanta when they begin to wear out. But for most of us, most of our mathematics moulders away slowly as the brain cells blink out, cell after cell, in our heads. It never gets used.

Number guessing is an exception. Why is it not taught in the schools? This is one branch of quasi-mathematical trickery that everybody needs desperately, yet it is never found in the school texts. By number guessing, I mean being able to answer those little riddles, like the following.

Here is a little test. Do not be afraid of it; the questions are all of the same type. Though they start out easy at first, pretty soon they are going to get much, much harder. So keep calm. All you have to do is guess the next number in the sequence. We give you, gratis, some of the numbers, which shows how very kind we are, because then we only ask for one number back from you. Sounds simple, doesn't it? In case you still haven't caught on, the first example is worked for you. Here goes:

(1) 8, 75, 3, 9, _ .

Now all you have to do is look at the numbers, and then in the blank provided write in the number that seems to you logically ought to go there. Now read the numbers again: eight, seventy-five, three, nine, ... What was that you were about to say? Was it 17? Right! The only number any sensible person would put there is 17. So we write in the number 17 in the space provided, like this:

(1) 8, 75, 3, 9, 17.

That's all you have to do. Good luck!

Everyone has encountered one of these little tests, and we all know how much depends on them - that place in a really good university, that step up in the firm that has been hanging fire for years, that membership of MENSA - the chance to look down on more and more stupid people who cannot guess the next number.

Really, it is inexcusable that this art is not taught in every school. The scientific fact is universally acknowledged that only intelligent people can do these puzzles; moreover, nobody denies that there is a crying need for intelligence in all areas of the national economy. Hence, and one would think the inference would be obvious to any person who can guess the next number even in the easy example we saw just above, all that needs to be done in order to cure a vast proportion of the world's ills is to teach everyone to guess the next number. Because then, naturally, everyone would be intelligent....

- He winds up recommending lagrange interpolation, that is, assume it's a polynomial of degree one less than the number of points and generate numbers from that. It's general, as good as anything else, and solves the problem.

narciso said...

a little reminder,

Fritz said...

Ann, if you need help fudging the numbers to make them come out the way you want, here's a helpful book:

cyrus83 said...

There's also the X-factor of what happened in the primaries - if spending translated into winning, this would be a Jeb vs Bernie matchup right now, and Bernie would probably be safely running away with it.

Besides just the dollars themselves, there's the unknown question of whether a dollar in Trump's coffers is more effective than a dollar in Hillary's. Just based on the primary campaign expenditures, Trump only spent about half as much per vote he got in the primaries as Hillary (a bit less than $6 to a bit more than $12). In part, his strategy of being the major story of the day in the press is saving him a fortune in advertising costs.

Yancey Ward said...

I think campaign money not spent in vote fraud is probably money wasted. I saw the ads for Shelob during the Olympics, and in my opinion, that money was sent down the toilet. I am not a supporter of Clinton, but even if I were undecided, those limp ads would actively push me away.

However, on the math- the burn rate is what you are looking for, and that seems to favor Trump at a cursory glance. I get the impression, however, that Clinton spends an inordinate amount of time and money fundraising while Trump seems to be somewhere every single day and night meeting voters in much larger crowds than Clinton does- larger by a factor of 10. People may think this doesn't matter, but the truth is that word of mouth probably is a much larger factor in elections than is generally known, and Trump builds that with every single crowd he speaks to.

If I were giving advice to Trump, I would say to him- don't buy television ads at all. Use the funds that come in for holding a rally every single day and aim for those as large as possible, and do it all over the country, even in hostile environs. Let the RNC, if they don't want to spend money promoting Trump, to spend it on grass roots organization for the House and Senate elections, and all the state level elections. The thing is this- in this particular election, the Democrats and Clinton will do some of the grassroots for Trump unwittingly.

This is a unique election, and I think money raised means very little, and with a wealthy and newsworthy candidate like Trump, it means even less.

Yancey Ward said...

And I second the comment above that questions the causality of money raised versus who wins. You don't usually have a candidate who has spent mostly his own money for the campaign to date. Even a man as wealthy as Romney did normal fundraising like every previous Republican candidate in my lifetime. Had Trump been calling for donations and fundraising a year ago, he would have raised nearly as much by now as Clinton did- the latest numbers show that pretty damned clearly.

Hazy Dave said...

If the People wanted Reform of Campaign Finance, a good place to start would be having the Kind and Beneficent State set political campaign advertising rates for TV and Radio, much as Medicare sets reimbursement rates for Physicians.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Hazy Dave, I've always thought that if they wanted to socialize something, they should socialize lawyers. Let every lawyer make 50 grand a year or so. Or some complicated system like the way they decide what the public school teachers make. They could even have a union!

Entertainment Mania said...

If the People wanted Reform of Campaign Finance, a good place to start would be having the Kind and Beneficent State set political campaign advertising rates for TV and Radio, much as Medicare sets reimbursement rates for Physicians.

Entertainment Mania said...