Wendy Davis Is Raising Big Bucks—But What She Really Needs Are More Voters

Wendy Davis Is Raising Big Bucks—But What She Really Needs Are More Voters

Texas state Senator Wendy Davis' newfound fame has brought with it a tangible benefit. Between June 17 and June 30, Davis reeled in nearly $1 million in contributions—almost a quarter of the entirety of what she raised for her 2012 reelection. Unfortunately for her bigger ambitions, it's also one-fifth of what was raised by the likely Republican candidate for governor.

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The Davis haul, reported at $933,000 by the Texas Tribune, is a healthy sum, comparisons aside. Particularly when you consider that the fundraising period only includes a few days' worth of her new celebrity; her filibuster on Texas' anti-abortion legislation was on the 25th. How she does in the next filing period may be a better guide to the enthusiasm her stand generated—and how she does once attention fades will be a better guide still.

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If Davis were to run for governor, as it was suggested she do , her likely opponent is basically set. The state's current attorney general, Greg Abbott, raised $4.8 million during the same period, again according to the Texas Tribune. Abbott, who was paralyzed after a tree fell on him 26 years ago, officially announced his candidacy over the weekend.

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Abbott's intake is far closer to what a contender for governor in the state needs. During the last gubernatorial election in the state in 2010, the two big-party candidates raised a combined $65.5 million, according to FollowTheMoney.org. The winner, Rick Perry, raised nearly $40 million of that, and ended up winning by more than 12 percentage points. Perry victory had a number of other contributing factors, of course. He was an incumbent, having held the position for 10 years at that point. And he was the Republican in a state that favored Mitt Romney in 2012 by 16 percentage points.

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During her 2012 reelection, Davis' most generous supporters were lawyers (who gave a combined $1.3 million) and "women's issues" groups (who gave $400,000). Much of the late-June intake probably came from that latter group. And as the Tribune notes, people from out of state.

[T]he senator has a base beyond the traditional big-name donors—and outside the state’s borders. About $580,000 of the money came from Texas, her campaign's figures show, meaning more than $300,000 came from somewhere else. She got a total of 15,290 separate donations, most of them under $250, and more than 13,000 of them were less than $50; of the contributions she received, some 4,900 were from Texas, figures compiled by her campaign indicate.

This is Davis's blessing and her curse. Davis has shown she can bring in big bucks. But even if the $933,000 represents a sustainable four-day haul, it's not clear that she could raise enough to compete with Abbott. The money is heavily from outside Texas—as is the support. New York and California activists may give a lot of money, but few are likely to move to Texas to vote.