Barack Obama or Mitt Romney: Who's winning the fundraising race?
A donor fills out a contribution form while Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign fundraising event in Atlanta, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012. (AP / Charles Dharapak)
Published Friday, September 21, 2012 7:30AM EDT
You would think a multi-millionaire like Mitt Romney would have easily won the cash race with U.S. President Barack Obama in the presidential election campaign, with the help of some deep-pocketed friends.
But the fundraising picture that emerged after the conventions wound down and the final push to the White House ramped up told a more nuanced story.
Data shows that while the Republican National Committee and super PACs that support Romney’s campaign outpaced fundraising by the Democratic National Committee and PACs that back Obama, the incumbent has raised far more than his GOP rival.
Late summer, numbers showed that the RNC had raised about $20 million more than the DNC. And the primary super PAC backing the Romney campaign, ‘Restore Our Future,’ had raised about four times as much as ‘Priorities USA,’ the PAC supporting Obama.
Mid-September figures for the individual campaigns, however, show that Obama had raised more than $340,000,000, compared to Romney’s just over $190,000,000.
In September, the Obama campaign announced that after getting beaten for three straight months, the president and the Democrats “outraised” Romney and the Republicans $114 million to $111 million for the month of August.
While Obama’s cash-flow bump was a marked increase from the $75 million he raised in July, August was the third-straight month that the Romney campaign topped the $100-million mark.
Some attributed Obama’s cash flow increase to widely praised speeches at the Democratic National Convention by first lady Michelle Obama and former president Bill Clinton.
But whatever the cause, the Obama campaign was still forced to admit that it was being outspent, particularly by the powerful super PACs associated with Romney. Super PACs are political action committees that can raise, and spend, unlimited sums of money to advocate for or against candidates. Super PACs cannot, however, donate any money directly to a candidate.
“Right before the conventions, we were being outspent by super PACs alone in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin. That margin was more than 2-to-1 in Florida, Iowa, and North Carolina,” Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in September.
Messina hailed his campaign’s more distant relationship with super PACs, saying it should be “ordinary Americans” that decide the election’s outcome.
But in its own release, the Romney campaign said that more than 94 per cent of its August donations were for $250 or less.
“Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are offering bold solutions to our country’s problems -- that is why we are seeing such tremendous support from donors across the country,” Spencer Zwick, Romney’s national finance chair, and RNC chair Reince Priebus said in a statement.
That September statement showed that Romney had more than $160 million in cash on hand, tens of millions more than the Obama campaign.
And the Republican challenger is set to get a boost from a well-connected supporter in the form of Karl Rove, former George W. Bush chief of staff. Rove mobilized his own super PAC, called “American Crossroads,” to “carpet bomb” Obama and Vice President Joe Biden with attack ads over the last 57 days of the campaign.
The Obama campaign has promised a counterattack. But with tens of millions less in cash on hand than the Romney campaign, Obama will have to keep up the winning fundraising streak.