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With the end of the third fundraising quarter in the books, campaigns have started to release information about their hauls from July through September.
Reams of their FEC paperwork will be scoured for clues about the health of their campaign operation, and the candidates with eye-popping totals will be declared big winners of this round in the race to the White House.
So far, Ben Carson (with $20 million) and Bernie Sanders (with $26 million) have posted impressive totals that exceeded expectations. Jeb Bush brought in at least $12 or so million, and Hillary Clinton boasts a $28 million haul.
So what does a big fundraising quarter really mean?
While no candidate will complain about having a lot of cash in the bank, a big money total this early in the primary process doesn’t always mean a big winner in the election.
We dug through the third-quarter reports for this point in each of the last three presidential cycles. Here’s what we found.
2011 Third Quarter Fundraising, GOP primary
- Rick Perry: $17,200,232.07
- Mitt Romney: $14,222,570.66
- Ron Paul: $8,270,199.92
- Michele Bachmann: $3,907,748.06
- Herman Cain: $2,827,000.72
- Tim Pawlenty: $994,670.77
- Newt Gingrich: $807,962.45
- Rick Santorum: $682,177.87
2007 Third Quarter Fundraising, Democratic primary
- Hillary Clinton: $27,767,361.23
- Barack Obama: $21,381,424.96
- Bill Richardson: $5,358,585.11
- Joe Biden: $1,758,068.56
- Chris Dodd: $1,522,061.40
2007 Third Quarter Fundraising, GOP primary
- Mitt Romney: $18,396,719.40
- Fred Thompson: $12,828,110.93
- Rudy Giuliani: $11,624,255.27
- John McCain: $5,734,477.95
- Ron Paul: $5,258,064.64
- Mike Huckabee: $1,040,542.53
- Sam Brownback: $925,320.22
- Tom Tancredo: $772,260.93
- Duncan Hunter: $536,356.98
2003 Third Quarter Fundraising, Democratic primary
- Howard Dean: $14,839,513.99
- John Kerry: $4,015,365.36
- Dick Gephardt: $3,830,746.51
- Wesley Clark: $3,491,108.95
- John Edwards: $2,574,121.97
- Dennis Kucinich: $1,660,756.67
- Bob Graham: $1,413,185.24
So, the big winners were Rick Perry in 2011, Hillary Clinton in 2007, Mitt Romney in 2007 and Howard Dean in 2003.
One thing all four of those people have in common? They did not win their party's nomination that year.