Two medium-size items in this week’s edition of 2012 Tuesday:
Since Tim Pawlenty dropped out of the GOP presidential race, there’s been a lot of speculation as to who will be next to end his campaign, and when.
I’m not sure about the “who,” but there’s a pretty good chance that the “when” won’t be until after Jan. 1, 2012. Why? Federal matching funds.
Even primary candidates who flame out are eligible for federal funds to match contributions of up to $250 by any individual — up to a maximum level in the tens of millions of dollars. The spending limit, which started at $10 million in 1974, is adjusted for inflation each election cycle and in 2008 stood at $42.05 million. Primary candidates are eligible to receive up to one-half of that limit, so for 2012 a candidate could in theory receive well over $20 million.
Here are two relevant sections from a Federal Election Commission brochure about matching funds First:
Even if they no longer campaign actively in primary elections, candidates may continue to request public funds to pay off campaign debts until late February or early March of the year following an election. (However, to qualify for matching funds, contributions must be deposited in the campaign account by December 31 of the election year.)
A candidate may satisfy eligibility requirements and submit private contributions for matching payments any time after January 1 of the year before a Presidential general election. Actual payments are not made, however, until after January 1 of the Presidential election year. (emphasis added)
An FEC spokesman said a campaign has to be active after Jan. 1 of the election year to receive the matching funds. If you think that doesn’t appeal to a lot of the lagging candidates right now, I’ve got a spot for you at the next $1-a-head fund-raising dinner for the candidate of your choice.
A new Gallup poll among registered voters shows President Obama is in a statistical tie with Mitt Romney…and Rick Perry…and Ron Paul…and Michele Bachmann. Importantly, Obama is under 50 percent against all four candidates. Says Gallup:
These prospective election ballots — measured Aug. 17-18, well over a year before the Nov. 6, 2012, election — indicate that the race for president at this point is generally competitive, with voters fairly evenly divided in their preference for giving Obama a second term or electing a Republican candidate. Even though the four Republican candidates tested have varying degrees of name recognition, they all fare roughly the same.
All four, however, poll significantly better than the “generic Republican” did the last time Gallup asked that question. While Republican voters view Perry and Romney more highly than Bachmann and Paul, independents like the three men about equally — and noticeably better than Bachmann. Democrats, not surprisingly, think all four are lousy compared to Obama.
– By Kyle Wingfield