The Campaign Spot

The Myth of Obama’s Fundraising Lives On

This Politico story about disillusioned Obama supporters who “bundled” contributions for his 2008 bid and won’t be doing so this cycle is fascinating, but I stopped short when I saw this early sentence:

Campaign officials deny that there’s any “enthusiasm gap,” and indeed the new operation appears to be on track to raise as much money as Obama did in his record-setting 2008 campaign. But the identity and mood of the campaign is very different.

Er, no. Obama is not “on track” to raise as much money as he did in 2008. He raised $86 million last quarter. While that’s an impressive sum, if he continues that rate for the next six quarters, he will raise $602 million, significantly less than the $750 million he raised in the 2008 cycle.

Some will argue that Obama can make up lost ground in the coming quarters, and will predict that he will. But the first-quarter efforts collect the lowest-hanging fruit, the folks who were most eager to donate and just needed a formal campaign. Almost every campaign has some quarter that raises less than the previous one: The Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign raised less in their third quarter of fundraising than in their second, and less in their fifth than in their fourth. In 2008, Obama raised $59 million in his second quarter and then $21 million in his third quarter. He raised $133 million in his fifth quarter and then $104 million in his sixth quarter.

Someone will probably also argue that Obama is doing much better than in the 2008 cycle, because his $86 million in his first quarter this time is way more than the $26 million that he raised in his first quarter last time. This, of course, makes perfect sense if you think the fundraising apparatus and environment of an incumbent president of the United States with a heavy fundraising schedule is on par with a relatively lesser-known long-shot junior senator from Illinois with a funny name.

It seems revealing that even in a well-reported article about problems in Obama’s donor base, the erroneous spin that he’s doing as well as he did last cycle pops up in the third paragraph.

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