Is Mia Love Spending Too Much Money?

Campaign disclosure forms show 4th District candidate Mia Love has been raising a lot of money, and spending a lot of money as well.

Love pulled in $589,000 last quarter, but spent $374,000 in the process. Roll Call says that 71% “burn rate” this early in the campaign has a number of Utah Republicans worried about the efficacy of the Love campaign.

Love already spent more than half of what she raised during those three months. It’s highly unusual for a candidate to have a 71 percent burn rate more than one year from Election Day.

Love lost to (Jim) Matheson by just 768 votes last cycle. Republicans had privately expressed concerns about her team at the time.

When she announced her rematch earlier this year, Love and her campaign claimed to have learned lessons from her 2012 bid. But spending so much of her money so early has Republicans quietly worried again.

Love’s campaign manager, Dave Hansen, tells Utah Policy, most of the spending right now is on fundraising.

“If we raised $600,000, and it cost us $300,000 to do it – that’s a good deal. We are still ahead by $300,000.”

The biggest expense right now for Love’s campaign is direct mail fundraising. Her campaign is buying lists and sending out mailers to those potential donors. 

“Right now we are prospecting for donors. Next year we will take that prospecting and go after those donors more aggressively,” says Hansen. “It’s costing us to build these lists, about 40% of what we raise is going toward list building.”

Hansen has a point. That list building may pay off. In the last quarter, Love had more than 10,000 individual donors who gave, on average, $57 each. That’s a donor base she can keep going back to as most of those haven’t given the maximum donation yet.

In 2012, Matheson and Love spent a combined $4.7 million on the race. Hansen says he wouldn’t be surprised if each campaign needed to spend more than $3 million on the 2014 contest.

“We are trying to bring in every single dollar we can raise. It’s gonna cost a couple of million dollars minimum.”