For the second month in a row, Mitt Romney outraised President Obama by a wide margin. Obama and the DNC brought in $75 million, the campaign announced on Twitter, while the Romney campaign and the RNC raised $101 million:
The gap is slightly smaller than it was in June, when Romney raised $106 million and Obama brought in $71 million, but it’s the second-straight month that Romney has pulled in nine figures and the third-straight month he has outraised the incumbent president.
The fundraising numbers are split between the candidates’ campaign committees, their respective national party committees and joint fundraising committees that raise money for both entities.
Romney’s campaign said the three combined had $185.9 million in the bank at the end of July; Obama’s team did not announce a cash-on-hand figure.
Given the hundreds of millions that both political parties and their presidential candidates have raised this year, it isn’t likely that either side will run out of cash before November. But the latest reports about how the two sides are utilizing their resources have raised an interesting question about campaign strategy. With President Obama’s campaign spending money like it’s going out of style in the spring and summer, it’s clear that despite the expectation earlier in the year that the formidable machine the Democrats have built would have a considerable financial edge, the opposite may be true. As the New York Times reports, Mitt Romney and the Republicans will likely have more money to spend in the fall campaign than their rivals.
The Democrats have spent the last couple of months going all in on nasty personal attacks on Romney that they hope, combined with spending on voter registration and other campaign infrastructure, will pave the way for an Obama victory. That’s a rational strategy but it leaves them open to some second-guessing. They are gambling that their sliming of Romney will sour the public on the GOP candidate will work. But if their charges don’t stick, they will be left to face a still viable rival in September and October who will be able to outspend them on the ground in battleground states.
This might explain what President Obama was so worried about during his frantic Air Force One plea for donations last weekend:
The Romney campaign, along with its Romney Victory fund and the Republican National Committee, raised more than $100 million in June, obliterating the campaign’s goal and setting the one-month record for any Republican campaign, according to a GOP official.
Barack Obama raised $150 million as he was surging in September 2008, the record month for any campaign.
This is huge for Romney. It’s a fundraising record for Republicans, and a big leap from the $77 million he raised in May. Obama’s team already appeared to be overextending itself, breaking records for number of fundraisers attended all the way back in May and continuing the frantic pace through June. Still, the president’s fundraising total lagged behind Romney’s last month. The Obama campaign hasn’t released its latest numbers yet, but it’s hard to imagine it could top Romney after pulling in just $60 million in May (which was actually the biggest haul for Obama so far this election). The president has hit a ceiling. How can he possibly pencil in more fundraisers or send out more pleading emails than he already does?
In case you couldn’t tell from the dozens of Obama campaign emails you get each week begging for $3 contributions, or donations in lieu of wedding gifts, the president’s reelection team is apparently nervous about its money game. Exhibit B: The Daily Beast obtained a recording of a frantic 18-minute fundraising solicitation made by President Obama during a donor conference call on Air Force One:
The president’s 18-minute pleading—a recording of which was provided to The Daily Beast by an Obama contributor—hardly sounded like a man doing a victory lap after Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling upholding ObamaCare, as the Affordable Care Act has come to be known. Or, for that matter, like a candidate who has been beating his Republican opponent in recent polls of key battleground states.
Rather, Obama sounded like a dog-tired idealist forced to grapple painfully with hard reality. “In 2008 everything was new and exciting about our campaign,” Obama said. “And now I’m the incumbent president. I’ve got gray hair. People have seen disappointment because folks had a vision of change happening immediately. And it turns out change is hard, especially when you’ve got an obstructionist Republican Congress.”
ObamaCare has lived to see another day. According to the Supreme Court ruling, the only substantial change is that the individual mandate is now considered a tax, something the Obama White House refused to admit it was.
Three hours after the decision was passed down, the Romney campaign’s spokeswoman announced they surpassed the $1 million mark in organic fundraising, mostly from small donors who, after hearing the Supreme Court’s ruling, made their way to the Romney website and clicked “Donate.” The average donation to the Romney campaign was for a little more than $115. As of yet, neither the Republican National Committee (RNC) nor the Romney campaign have sent a fundraising email based on the Supreme Court ruling. If these organic fundraising numbers are any indication, the Supreme Court’s decision on ObamaCare could be the biggest moneymaker for Republicans this election cycle.
For those who assume the post-Citizens United world of campaign spending means elections can be bought, the Ohio Senate race is a classic example of a bad candidate being kept afloat by cash. That’s the conceit of a Politico feature today about Josh Mandel, the Ohio Republican who is confounding his critics by staying within striking range of Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown. According to the piece, Mandel ought to have been run out of the race due to a string of bad headlines. However, he has not only saved his candidacy but actually has a shot at winning due, as Politico tells it, to the infusion of out-of-state contributions and ad buys by super PACs that have duped the state’s voters into considering voting for him. But while there is no question that the efforts of the pro-GOP Crossroads America PAC and others like it have helped Mandel, Politico is exaggerating both the impact of money and Mandel’s supposed weakness.
As Politico notes, even Mandel has acknowledged that the support from national conservatives groups is a shot in the arm to his candidacy. Money can buy visibility and get a candidate’s message out to the public, especially when a politician has been pigeonholed as not ready for prime time–a problem the youthful Mandel has encountered. But campaign contributions and television ads can’t buy credibility. All the money in the world couldn’t have won a Christine O’Donnell a Senate seat or put Newt Gingrich in the White House. Though Mandel has had his share of negative stories during his short tenure as Ohio State Treasurer (he was first elected in 2010), the baby-faced Iraq War veteran has demonstrated the sort of intelligence and character that would give any politician a chance, especially against a liberal like Brown in a moderate/conservative state.
After Obama’s attempt to reassure the public about the economic recovery fell flat Thursday, he jetted off to a celebrity fundraiser in Manhattan hosted by Anna Wintour and Sarah Jessica Parker — and the contrast could not have been more tone-deaf. As AP reports, Obama seemed to temporarily abandon his middle class warrior routine, telling the $40,000-a-plate dinner guests that they were the “ultimate arbiter” of the country’s future:
Speaking in a dimly lighted, art-filled room, Obama told supporters they would play a critical role in an election that would determine a vision for the nation’s future.
“You’re the tie-breaker,” he said. “You’re the ultimate arbiter of which direction this country goes.”
Among the celebrities on hand to hear Obama’s remarks were Oscar winner Meryl Streep, fashion designer Michael Kors and Vogue editor Anna Wintour, who moderated a private question-and-answer session between the president and the guests. Broderick, who was starring in a Broadway musical, was absent.
As a gesture of egalitarianism, there was one non-paying, no-name guest who had won a $3 Obama campaign raffle and was able to attend the fundraiser as a “prize” (how benevolent of the campaign).
The celebrity hostesses also reportedly promoted the Obama campaign’s Runway to Win line, a collection of t-shirts and tote bags “designed” by celebrities and fashion designers and sold on Obama’s campaign site. The products are as awful as you can imagine. Would Anna Wintour ever let her skin touch this monstrosity designed by Beyonce? Or this mess (allegedly) designed by Prabal Gurung? Unlikely. But for $45-and-up, brand-obsessed Obama fans can look like they just bought a t-shirt sewn by a Chinese child laborer from the back of an unlicensed D.C. souvenir truck.
The day started out with what initially seemed like good news for the Obama campaign. It had beat its April fundraising haul, a mediocre $43 million, by bringing in $60 million in May:
President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies together hauled in more than $60 million for his re-election campaign in May, a large jump as he struggles to maintain a fundraising edge against Republican challenger Mitt Romney. …
It was also a dose of good news for Obama after a Republican victory in the closely watched Wisconsin governor recall election raised warning flags over Democratic fundraising and campaign organizing that could pose problems for the president in the November 6 general election.
After a string of flops for Obama — the failed Bain attacks, the dismal jobs numbers, and the Wisconsin loss — this finally seemed like a chance for some positive publicity. At least until the Romney campaign blasted out this email on its own May fundraising numbers:
Today, Romney for President, Romney Victory, and the Republican National Committee announced fundraising totals of over $76.8 million in May. The campaign and RNC have $107 million cash on hand.
Announcing the numbers, Romney Victory National Finance Chairman Spencer Zwick said, “We are encouraged by the financial support from a broad range of voters. To them, whether they are Republican, Democrat, Independent, a first time political donor, or a former Obama donor, this is not just a campaign; it’s an opportunity for the country. It is clear that people aren’t willing to buy into ‘hope & change’ again. Voters are making an investment because they believe that it will benefit the country.”
The biggest surprise is that Romney beat Obama’s May fundraising numbers by $17 million — and nearly doubled his $40 million April total.
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.
Don’t let the record number of fundraisers President Obama has been attending fool you. The Washington Post reports that Obama is having a difficult time pulling in large donors, a sign that the president may have some serious fundraising problems down the road:
But Obama lags behind Republican front-runner Mitt Romney in finding donors willing to give $2,000 or more — a surprising development for a sitting president, and one that could signal more worrisome financial problems heading into the general election. At this point in the last election cycle, Obama had received such large donations from more than 23,000 supporters, more than double the 11,000 who have given him that much this time. President George W. Bush had more than four times that number of big donations at this point in his reelection.
This would explain why Obama has been frantically jumping from fundraiser to fundraiser, with little to show for it.