April was not a good fundraising month for the Obama campaign or the pro-Obama super PAC. BuzzFeed reports that many of the campaign’s big-dollar donors have already maxed out their contributions, and new donors aren’t lined up to replace them:
Donations to President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign declined sharply in April, as many big-dollar contributors hit the legal maximum, a BuzzFeed analysis of Federal Election Commission data shows. …
Most of Obama’s drop is attributable to a decline in contributions of more than $500, which fell by more than $9 million. Many of Obama’s top donors have already hit the legal $2500 maximum to the campaign, which — along with an apparent failure to recruit a new cadre of wealthy supporters — may account for the decline.
The bigger issue is that the donor pool isn’t being replenished. Obama has attended a record number of fundraisers, so it’s hard to chalk this up to a lack of outreach. More likely, as Andrew Malcolm writes, is that donors (and some bundlers) simply aren’t as enthusiastic as they were in 2008. Collecting the money takes a lot more time and effort:
But the decline appeared to confirm rumors and anecdotal evidence that Obama’s large-sum donors were less enthusiastic this time around and holding back the checks or reducing their size. One California Democrat said bundlers, who simply stacked the free-flowing checks in 2008, were now having to convince many to give.
And it’s not just the president’s campaign that had a down month in April. The pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA had its worst fundraising month as well, only collecting nine donations of $10,000 or more, according to Politico. Another bad sign: several of these donations were from labor unions, which already play a similar role to super PACs and likely would have already used that money for their own Obama reelection efforts anyway.
The fact that big-money donors are maxing out their Obama campaign contributions wouldn’t matter as much if they were subsequently pouring their money into the super PAC. So far, it doesn’t look like they are. Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage might help open some wallets in Hollywood and elsewhere. But his attacks on Romney’s career at Bain Capital could also present a problem for him with Wall Street donors. These are the people who would normally be prime targets for recruitment by Priorities USA, but it’s very possible that they don’t want their money funding anti-Bain attack ads.