Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School who studies the intersection of money and politics, said the actual fundraising difference among top-tier candidates probably doesn’t matter that much when it comes to hiring staff or making purchasing decisions. But she said it means a lot for public perception.
“What’s the difference between $650,000 and $700,000?” Levinson said. “Maybe some ‘slate mailers.’ But it’s also nice to say, ‘I have raised more money than anyone else, so I have more support than anyone else.’ There’s something sad about money being a proxy for support. It’s leaving out the vast majority of the electorate.”
As for which metric is best? Levinson said it can be helpful to look at cash on hand.
“It shows two things, Levinson said. “One is, ‘can you keep your fiscal house in order?’ And second, it shows how much money you already had to spend. It may indicate that you jumped the gun and spent the money too early.”