"How much money has he raised?"
"How much does he have on hand?"
"Can he win?"
As campaign season heats up, you'll find as many articles as you can Google on how to raise money. You'll also find plenty of fundraising firms to help you raise that money.
And unfortunately, many new candidates will also find hundreds of ways to spend that money on things that won't help get them elected.
Candidates often struggle to be relevant in their race. While the candidate himself may not hear it, donors are asking folks in the know the million dollar question: "Can he win?"
Those folks in the know look at campaign finance reports. They look at how much money you've raised, and how much you've spent. Having raised $10,000 means little if you've spent 75% of it by March.
Vendors will try to sell you a thousand trinkets: anything from balloons to frisbees to coffee mugs and pens. These items have very little impact on Election Day. The voters who want your pens and frisbees already support you.
Campaign funds should be spent on direct voter contact. Direct voter contact means mailers as Election Day approaches, television and radio ads, online ads - those things that undecided voters use to learn more about you and your campaign.
So save your money. Talking directly to voters isn't cheap, but it's the only way to win.
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