Monday, April 23, 2012
President Obama’s re-election campaign is straining to raise the huge sums it is counting on to run against Mitt Romney, with sharp dropoffs in donations from nearly every major industry forcing it to rely more than ever on small contributions and a relative handful of major donors.
From Wall Street to Hollywood, from doctors and lawyers, the traditional big sources of campaign cash are not delivering for the Obama campaign as they did four years ago. The falloff has left his fund-raising totals running behind where they were at the same point in 2008 — though well ahead of Mr. Romney’s — and has induced growing concern among aides and supporters as they confront the prospect that Republicans and their “super PAC” allies will hold a substantial advantage this fall.
With big checks no longer flowing as quickly into his campaign, Mr. Obama is leaning harder on his grass-roots supporters, whose small contributions make up well over half of the money he raised through the end of March, according to reports filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission. And Mr. Obama is asking far more of those large donors still giving, exploiting his joint fund-raising arrangement with the Democratic National Committee to collect five-figure checks from individuals who have already given the maximum $5,000 contribution to his re-election campaign.
“They clearly are feeling the pressure,” said one major Obama fund-raiser, who asked for anonymity to characterize his conversations with campaign officials. “They’re behind where they expected to be. You have to factor in $500 million-plus in Republican super PAC money.”
With no primary to excite his base, the economy struggling to rebound, and four years of political battles with Wall Street and other industries taking their toll, Mr. Obama’s campaign raised about $196 million through March, compared with $235 million at the same point in 2008. It has lagged behind its own internal quotas in some cities, according to people involved with the fund-raising efforts. But that has been offset by a highly successful joint fund-raising program with the national committee, which raised about $150 million, twice as much as in 2008.
Mr. Obama has held more than a hundred joint fund-raisers since last spring, far more than President George W. Bush during his 2004 re-election, and has tucked fund-raising stops into many of his official presidential trips.
The result: The national committee’s fund-raising from the technology industry, entrepreneurs, Wall Street and the entertainment industry have all risen sharply compared with 2008, even as the Obama campaign’s performance in those areas has tailed off, according to data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics. And with no primary to fight, Mr. Obama is spending much less than he was at this stage in 2008: He had about twice as much money in the bank at the end of March than he did four years ago.
All told, Mr. Obama and the Democratic committee ended March with about $130 million in cash on hand, a sizable war chest and far more than Mr. Romney and the Republican National Committee. Candidates typically raise more as the election nears, and Mr. Obama’s fund-raising accelerated sharply in the summer of 2008.
But Mr. Obama faces a major challenge in the months ahead. To raise as much money for his campaign as he did four years ago, the president would have to raise about $70 million a month through the end of the election cycle, more than triple the rate he has been bringing in cash so far.
Posted by Tony GOPrano at 11:00 AM