One of the biggest problems for the Republicans this year has been the perceived huge fundraising edge President Obama is supposed to enjoy. Though Democratic predictions that forecast the president’s re-election campaign raising a billion dollars may have been a vain boast, there’s little question the record-breaking amounts Obama raised in 2008 will be exceeded in 2012 with all the advantages of incumbency now on his side. By contrast, all of the president’s potential Republican opponents raised but piddling amounts when compared to the president’s efforts. But that was bound to change once the Republican nomination was decided. The fundraising reports from April — the month Mitt Romney wrapped up the GOP contest–proves this.
Romney’s campaign is set to announce today that along with the Republican National Committee, the GOP effort raised $40.1 million in April. That’s not too far below the $43.6 million President Obama’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee took in for the same month. This reflects not only a clear surge in donations for Romney but also an evening up of the imbalance in campaign cash that had been assumed to be the case this year. And with independent groups on both sides of the aisle free to spend on the campaign, this should make not only for a wild and woolly six months until November but a contest in which both sides will have ample resources to make their case to the people.
The surge will eliminate a situation where a challenger to an incumbent runs out of cash after a hard-fought nomination fight. Romney may have outspent his GOP foes heavily but the increase in donations — 95 percent of which are for less than $250 — leaves him enough money to keep campaigning and spending freely until the nominating conventions at the end of the summer. The reported $61.4 million in his coffers at the end of April may not be as much as the president has in his pocket but is enough to remain competitive.
Romney’s team is hoping to raise as much as $800 million by the end of the year, while the president’s campaign has now lowered expectations to a mere $750 million.
Though those who wrongly see campaign donations as a blight on the system consider these totals excessive, all this means is that both sides in the contest will be able to get their message out and organize their bases. It may be hard to avoid both Romney and Obama while watching television or surfing the Internet in the coming months, but these efforts are not undermining democracy, they are enabling it.