It has been a while since Campaign Diaries has checked in with Asa Hutchinson. This is for a couple of simple of reasons – tiny campaign footprint and woeful polling. But due to fundraising news from the FEC, combined with some early state polling and some grassroots campaign events, it is time to check back in with this long-shot campaign from the former governor of Arkansas.
The big news from the campaign trail this week has been the publication of fundraising filings through the Federal Election Commission for the second quarter of 2023. Fundraising has been somewhat underwhelming for candidates across the board. Only Trump and DeSantis cracked $20 million in donations for the quarter whilst the next best was former UN ambassador Nikki Haley at $7.3 million with most campaigns (except Trump’s) relying heavily on large dollar donors
Now whilst all of the campaigns may be somewhat concerned about their figures, the Hutchinson campaign should be downright terrified. FEC filings showed that he raised just $580 000, making him woefully ill-equipped to take on any of the candidates polling above him. This no doubt explains why the campaign currently employs just six people compared Senator Tim Scott’s 52 or tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy’s 27, according to the same filings.
Relating to this latest news are the statistics surrounding the number of donors each campaign has received. These are key because candidates need at least 40,000 of them to get on the primary debate stage in August. Trump, DeSantis, Haley, Scott, Ramaswamy and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie have already hit the threshold. Hutchinson on the other hand is lagging badly. He received cash from 3,928 unique donors in Q2 plus another 2,516 in the first two weeks of July. Whilst there does seem to have been a rapid uptick in donations in July, he still remains more than 33,000 individual donors away from getting on the all-important debate stage.
Adding to Hutchinson’s issues is the fact that he is trailing other explicitly anti-Trump candidates in fundraising and polling. His principal opponent in this regard is Chris Christie who raised more than three times as much as him. Both of him and Mike Pence (who is also criticising Trump and is a key competitor for the evangelical vote) are polling far better than him in these two already squeezed lanes. Both Pence and Christie have been managing to pull 5% in some national polls whilst Christie appears to be making a small dent in New Hampshire where he is consistently polling third and has hit double figures in a couple of surveys.
Like most of the other candidates, Hutchinson has been pursuing an early state strategy so far, hopping between Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Whilst he has been on the ground as much as anyone of late, the attendance of his events has been poor, culminating in an event in Iowa which appeared to only have six attendees (for which he was roundly castigated in conservative media).
He has been keen to criticise Trump but has been outshined in that department by Christie whilst his emphasis on previous governmental experience and deep knowledge on issues such as the border have failed to capture the imagination potential voters. He often seems to be living in an alternate universe where Bush republicanism is still the dominant force in the GOP.
Hutchinson recently told the New York Times that his strategy was to achieve a top five finish in Iowa in order to get momentum coming into New Hampshire before aiming to decamp to the deep south and sticking in the race for the long haul. This does seem like a nice plan, but it will require him to start polling above 1% in Iowa pretty soon, to get on the debate stage in August and to find drastically more cash. If he can’t do that, Hutchinson’s campaign will be in the endgame by the Labor Day.