(Photo: Reuters / Brian Snyder)
Republican presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry had an incredible fundraising period in the third quarter, especially given the fact that he entered the GOP race a full thirty days after the quarter began. But now political analysts are asking why his cash flow has seemingly gone from an open fire hydrant to a slow trickle.
The most obvious reason is Perry’s lackluster performance in the last several GOP debates. Aside from his memory lapse at a recent debate when he could not remember a third federal agency he wanted to eliminate, Perry hasn’t lived up to early expectations on how he would man-handle former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in face-to-face encounters.
“The debates have taken their toll,” a Perry fundraiser, who asked not to be identified, told The Houston Chronicle. “The national numbers have taken a toll. People see the campaign on a negative trajectory.”
This same Perry fundraiser said of the 15 RSVPs he received for a recent fundraiser, not a single one attended or contributed financially.
Yet another reality of a candidate running a lackluster campaign is a drop in poll numbers. Soon after his announcement in early August, Perry vaulted to the top of polls, even surpassing Romney in several major polls in August and September.
In the latest Fox News poll released Wednesday, Perry has fallen to fifth place, now finding himself sandwiched between Texas Rep. Ron Paul and another fellow and former frontrunner, Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minnesota).
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich edged out Romney by one point, 23 to 22 percent respectively, and Atlanta businessman Herman Cain placed third with 15 percent.
Perry’s declining poll numbers have meant that his campaign has increased spending on ads in key states in an effort to reverse his current slide.
When third quarter fundraising totals were provided, Perry had approximately $15 million cash on hand, more than any other candidate besides Romney. Some analyst are predicting his fourth quarter fundraising numbers may not exceed $5 million – a number hardly big enough to sustain his current pace of spending assuming the amount of television ads he will need to run in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
“It’s the iron rule of politics: Money follows popularity,” Austin lobbyist Bill Miller and a Perry donor told the Houston Chronicle. “It goes up if you’re popular, and goes down if you’re not.”
Still, several of Perry’s most loyal supporters are sticking by him. “Rick Perry has proven time and time again he can successfully climb political mountains,” said Texas political activist Brent Simpson. “He’ll be back.”
Perry and five of his GOP rivals are scheduled to participate in the Thanksgiving Family Forum in Des Moines, Iowa, this Saturday. The forum will be held at First Federated Church from 4 to 6 p.m. CST.