Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)  during the Ag Summit in Des Moines. 3/7/2015 Photo by John Pemble
Early Fourth Quarter fundraising numbers are out and they show that Texas Senator Ted Cruz pulled in almost $20 million in hard money. This brings his total for 2015 to over $45 million and reflects a 66% increase over his Third Quarter cash haul. This is important.

Via The Wall Street Journal:

The $20 million haul in the final three months of 2015 is up sharply from the $12.2 million raised in the third quarter, a bonanza that came as polls showed Mr. Cruz rising to a top-tier candidate from a back-of-the-pack contender in the crowded GOP candidate field.

By the end of the third quarter, Mr. Cruz already had more cash on hand than any other GOP candidate. Official fundraising reports of how campaigns fared in the fourth quarter do not have to be released until Jan. 31.

At this stage of the campaign we can argue over how accurate polls are. The one thing you can’t argue over is how much money the candidate’s campaign raised. Unlike Super PAC fundraising, hard money — donations directed to a candidate’s official campaign that max out at $2700 per individual –donations are closely tied to the intensity of support. It is also important because no matter how much money a Super PAC pulls in from mega-donors, a campaign can only use hard money to pay for direct campaign expenses like staff, office space, travel, and advertising.

Back in October, we made the observation that Jeb Bush’s campaign was totally dependent on large donors that he had already tapped. That, and combined with the huge campaign overhead Bush has amassed, leads me to believe that he will be dead broke by the time New Hampshire votes. How does Cruz stack up?

[Ted Cruz campaign manager Jeff] Roe said in the memo, a year-end summary of the campaign’s progress, that Mr. Cruz had received contributions from 300,000 donors from across the country. Money arrived from 66% of the zip codes in the U.S., he said.

That number of 300,000 donors is amazing. It represents a pool that has not maxed out their donations and it is a pool that can be tapped again for general election expenses. The geographic diversity of the donations indicates that Cruz is not a regional candidate and he will be able to draw on campaign volunteers in large numbers.

The Cruz campaign released this data early for a reason. They are showing doubters among major donors that he can raised the resources to win a long primary and he’s starting to develop the “inevitability” narrative. The big question is what does Marco Rubio’s fundraising look like?bsp;