The conservative media continues to falsely assert that Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman Howard Dean is an ineffective fund-raiser. In the past week, Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes, New York Post columnist John Podhoretz, and Washington Times chief political correspondent Donald Lambro all cast Dean as a fund-raising failure. In fact, when compared with fund-raising in the most recent non-election year, Dean has raised more money in raw dollars, and more in comparison to the Republican National Committee (RNC), than did his predecessor.
As Media Matters for America has documented (here, here, and here), Dean raised $14.8 million between February and April 2005, versus $8.5 million raised by former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe during the same time period in 2003. Dean has also raised more money than McAuliffe relative to RNC fund-raising. The RNC raised $32.4 million between February and April 2005, about 2.2 times the rate of the DNC; over the same period in 2003, the RNC's $25.7 million was more than three times what the Democrats raised. An article in the June 20 edition of Newsweek by chief political correspondent Howard Fineman and national correspondent Tamara Lipper noted how Dean has been effective at soliciting smaller donations:
Officials estimate that $12 million of the $14 million the Dean regime has collected so far this year has come from those who gave less than $250. "For people who really look hard at the numbers, he's wowing people," says Elaine Kamarck, a respected DNC member.
Nevertheless, Barnes wrote in the June 20 edition of The Weekly Standard: "Rather than make a fool of himself, Dean is supposed to be raising money and expanding the party. He's failing at both." Lambro wrote in a June 16 Washington Times "Commentary" column: "Congressional Democratic leaders rushed to Mr. Dean's defense last week, but former DNC officials say privately his tenure so far is disappointing. The RNC is out-fund-raising him better than 2-to-1 and the uproar over his intemperate remarks is drowning out the party's message -- that is, if it has one."
Podhoretz wrote in a June 14 New York Post column: "Democrats have good reason to fear. Dean's Democratic National Committee has raised less than half of what the Republican National Committee has received in contributions." Podhoretz went on to compare Dean's 2005 totals to what the Democrats raised last year: "But last year, more money was raised by Democrats and left-wing groups than by Republicans and right-wing groups, so it's not as if there's nowhere for Dean and his people to turn for dollars." But 2004 was a presidential election year, so it's not comparable to 2005, a year with few national races, let alone a presidential contest. Also, 2004 was anomalous with respect to the relative fund-raising of the two parties; Republicans typically outstrip Democrats at fund-raising.