Two candidates are featured, and from one way of interpreting the data, this framing of the story might seem appropriate. Is there another story suggested by the financial disclosures? Look closely at the data compiled by the Tennessean:
Candidate: DAVID BRILEY
Money raised July 1-23: $62,053
Money raised overall through July 23: $600,000*** (*** not an exact figure )
Money left to spend: $32,829
Candidate: BOB CLEMENT
Money raised July 1-23: $115,646
Money raised overall through July 23: $1,365,033
Money left to spend: $548,278
Candidate: KARL DEAN
Money raised July 1-23: $356,210* (* includes $325,000 in personal loans)
Money raised overall through July 23: $1,201,000
Money left to spend: $8,973
Candidate: BUCK DOZIER
Money raised July 1-23: $46,807
Money raised overall through July 23: $532,278
Money left to spend: $83,686
Candidate: HOWARD GENTRY
Money raised July 1-23: $53,696** (**includes $23,000 in personal loans )
Money raised overall through July 23: $386,744
Money left to spend: $44,016
How about these headlines? Clement and Briley Leading the Pack in Late Fundraising OR Briley Continues to Outdistance Dean in Individual Contributions.
Now, I guess I am responding a bit here to the person who said that Briley supporters were disparaging to Dean when pointing out that Briley's individual contributions are larger than Dean's. While I don't think that Dean's ability to use personal funds for his campaign in any way disqualifies him or taints his candidacy, I do continue to be confused over why the newspapers give the impression that he has more support. I think the level of support is at least an open question, and that question ought to be reported honestly. Let's face it, some people are planning to vote for Dean because they believe he has the "better chance." But in assessing the candidates with the better chance, it is a trap to count personal contributions to one's own campaign. Those do not show support. The campaigns own sound bite on that spending acknowledges the long shot nature of Dean's campaign:
Dean spokeswoman Janel Lacey said the campaign has spent significant resources developing material for his door to-door “grassroots” campaign and emphasized, when asked about Dean’s personal contributions, that he “is not a career politician — so we’ve been working to build his name recognition.” (The City Paper, July 27, 2007)
Material for a door-to-door campaign is nothing like the very large door-to-door campaign that has already been underway a long time in the Briley camp. Lacking name recognition is something that reduces one's chances for winning, but the papers keep reporting this as an advantage for Dean. Not being a career politician is a swipe at Clement and frankly demeaning to people who dedicate themselves to public service. Some newspaper reporter ought to point out that Metro Law Director isn't exactly a private sector job. Karl Dean would not disparage people who dedicate their lives to public and political service, but this unexamined sound bite shows up almost every day in this city's newspapers.
Money Raised July 1-23 (the most recent period, an indicator of late, post-polling momentum):
Clement: $115, 646
Dozier: $46, 807
Dean: $31, 210
Overall Money Raised through July 23:
Dean: $250,000 ($1.2 M (total); $950,000 in personal money)
Gentry: $363,744 ($386,744 (total); $23,000 in personal money)
So, if the story is about how much the campaign has to spend, then inclusion of personal money is most appropriate, but if the question is what does fundraising show about which candidate has broader support, then Briely's numbers show him solidly in second place and the more likely runoff participant when compared to any of the other non-Clement candidates.
Dollars don't vote. On election day, each contributor and noncontributor gets ONE VOTE. Briley clearly has more individual contributors than anyone with the possible exception of Clement. I see no objective way that this data cannot be interpreted to make Briley a favorite for the runoff. Will Dean supporters now vote for Briley because he has the "better chance?" I don't really think they should, but their unwillingness to offer shows the clear fallacy in the so-called strategy of defensive voting. But, I already revealed the circularity of that argument.
So, get away from polls and dollars and yard signs. Get back to the real question: Who is best qualified to lead Nashville into its future? David Briley is the favorite in that race.