Four Days and Counting Until Money Must be Reported

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You can bet that March 31, 2007, is circled on the calendars of many politicos. This Saturday is the last day of the first fundraising quarter, which means that by mid-April, once all the numbers are crunched, the public will have hard numbers on what kind of cash the candidates have pulled in over the past three months.

Expect to feel poor. As U.S. News political correspondent Dan Gilgoff has reported, Hillary Rodham Clinton is expected to announce fundraising results somewhere around $25 or $30 million.

The end of the fundraising quarter means that less-monied candidates are looking for blue-light specials in the bevy of early primaries on February 5. As Gilgoff reports, candidates and staff are trying to figure out how to narrow the focus in order to wage serious campaigns in fewer locations.

"There are more states that are going on February 5 next year than there were battleground states in 2004," says an aide to the presidential campaign of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. "If you just look at Arnold Schwarzenegger's reelection in California, that was a $30 million venture, so you're not going to run full-scale races like that in 20 states." The aide also says that "there will be a smorgasbord of ways" to split up the early primary states and argues that the party's nomination does not always go to the candidate who picks up the big states like California.

Meanwhile, Gilgoff reports, John Edwards is aiming for the first four primaries: Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

"I subscribe to the theory that any candidate that wins three or four of the initial states will have such a tailwind that it will be difficult if not impossible to stop that candidate," says Fred Baron, finance director the Edwards campaign. Baron has been studying the fundraising momentum created by Edwards's surprise second place finish in Iowa in 2004, which Baron says brought in $175,000 in online donations the next day -- more money than the campaign had raised online in the previous year.

Etc.: Defying Reports, Edwards Stays In, at the News Desk on USNews.com