The Campaign Spot

Alternative Headline: Obama 2012 Fundraising Behind 2008 Pace

You’ll recall that at the end of last month, I had doubts that Obama’s fundraising would be as bad as some predicted.

From the June 30 Morning Jolt:

Campaign officials revealed during the last week that they have set a target of raising $60 million for the quarter from at least 450,000 donors. But even $60 million would not seem to be a very ambitious goal for Obama. He raised the same amount during the second quarter of 2007, just after he announced his 2008 campaign.

To match the $750 million or so he raised in 2008, one would expect Obama to average closer to $100 million per quarter for the next seven quarters, no? And to meet the much-hyped $1 billion number, Obama would have to perform well beyond that.

Part of me always looks warily at these sorts of leading indicators, but we will know fairly soon if there’s a reason that the Obama team is emphasizing that they don’t measure their capability to successfully raise money by that traditional metric of money raised.

Today the number is $86 million, an impressive sum by any measure. But it’s worth remembering, as Nathan Wurtzel notes, that Obama’s total includes fundraising he did for the Democratic National Committee. By comparison, the GOP candidates’ totals are amounts raised solely for their campaign.

To offer a more accurate comparison, you would have to toss in the totals for the RNC, which raised $6 million in April and $6 million in May. The RNC’s June total is not yet known.

 

Is Obama ahead in fundraising? Yes, and probably by quite a bit. But the comparison is not Obama and the DNC’s $86 million against Romney’s $18.3 million. The comparison is Obama and the DNC’s $86 million against Romney [or your preferred candidate] + $12 million for the RNC in April and May + the RNC’s June total.

[Some would argue a better comparison is to compare Obama’s total to all of the GOP candidates’ totals combined, roughly $35 million.]

Will Obama still be comfortably ahead? Of course. He probably should be, considering how he’s an incumbent president who has hit party fundraisers at a fast and furious pace in the past three months.

But again, to match his $750 million from the 2008 cycle, Obama would need to average $107 million for seven quarters. Obviously, it is possible that Obama can make up ground in the next few quarters. But to hit that hyped $1 billion number, Obama would need to raise a bit more than $142 million per quarter. As impressive as the $86 million figure is, it’s well below those markers.

And that’s not even getting into the millions that will be spent by outside groups…

UPDATE: Obama’s fundraising total for just his campaign: $47 million. So he has raised about two and a half times what Romney raised.

Note that at this point in 2003, George W. Bush had raised $49.5 million, or about $58.5 million in today’s money $35 million, or about $41.3 million. (I made an error in using Bush’s following quarter’s figure; Bush raised the $49.5 million from July to September of 2003.)

But that’s really not a fair comparison, and I hope Democrats will agree that Bush’s fundraising occurred during a time of relative economic prosperity, while Obama has been forced to raise cash in an economy where almost every American is worse off than they were three years ago, and has much less money to donate to their preferred cause.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The Obama campaign declares 98 percent of their donations were for $250 or less, and that the average was $69.

Note that under FEC rules, the Obama campaign is not required to collect information on donors of less than $200; The commission asks campaigns to report any donor whose cumulative contributions have exceeded $200.

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