Monday, July 18, 2011

You don't have to like Obama to concede his fund-raising prowess. GOP buddies, we gotta get busy!

Verne Strickland Blogmaster / July 18, 2011

IT HELPS TO GET THE NEWS EARLY THAT OBAMA CAN BUY THE ELECTION IF HE WANTS IT. THIS SHOULD PUT THE FIRES OF DOOM UNDER OUR REPUBLICAN CAMPAIGN PLANS. MUCH OF OBAMA'S WAR CHEST WILL GO TO THE DNC TO REBUILD DEMOCRAT FORCES ON THE HILL. TIME TO DIG IN AND DIG DOWN DEEP.



By Alexis Simendinger
RealClearPolitics

President Obama's early campaign haul of more than $86 million, including $38 million to be shared with the Democratic National Committee, should send a few chills through the ranks of Republican presidential rivals, whose campaigns combined have barely come close to matching the dollars Obama has raised just for the DNC, at least according to details released by campaigns to date.

Wednesday's fundraising numbers (July 13) released by the Obama campaign, are intended to put enough muscle on display to give challengers in the crowded GOP field some pause, and to reassure Democrats who may feel less motivated than they were during Obama's historic 2008 campaign.

With no primary to worry about, Obama's campaign team has been busy organizing in 50 states for a general election next year. The incumbent's resources give him a head start to establish campaign offices and networks of volunteers well in advance of the election, and during a period when more than a half-dozen Republican candidates are competing for money they need to battle it out in early primary states before the party settles on a nominee.
In a message sent to supporters via email before dawn, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina described the second-quarter campaign totals as "a solid start." The campaign in recent weeks had suggested that fundraising totals would be modest because the president was focused on helping the DNC initially, which will need to tap the cash earlier than will his campaign.

The campaign may have been gaming the media a bit by lowering expectations and then exceeding them. But regardless of expectations, estimations and projections - it's simply undeniable that Obama is raising a ton of money.

In recent weeks, the campaign talked about its $60 million goal for the quarter -- for the campaign and DNC combined. The $47 million in contributions that will go to the Organizing for America campaign appears more robust alongside the DNC resources, creating the $86 million total. At this time in 2007, when Obama entered a prolonged primary race against Hillary Clinton, his campaign raised $25 million for the comparative period in the cycle.

In 2008, Obama raised close to $750 million for his campaign -- a record - and his team says the goal is to match that success this time. Messina, acknowledging a tougher political terrain and recession-squeezed potential supporters, has dismissed suggestions that the campaign is shooting for a $1 billion war chest for 2012. Maybe so, but that $1 billion still hangs in the air as a caution to the GOP field that candidates' must prove their money-raising skills if they hope to come out of the primaries on firm financial footing ahead of the general election face-off with Obama.

The president's campaign team announced that 98 percent of Obama's donors gave less than $250, for an average contribution of $69 -- their boast that the president is capable of resurrecting the grass-roots fervor that helped secure his victory against Republican Sen. John McCain in 2008.

Messina's message that Obama's campaign is "owned" by average Americans is designed to be the Democratic corollary to the small-dollar conservative support presidential candidates such as Rep. Michele Bachmann and Rep. Ron Paul are attracting. And it is being used by Obama's team to quietly draw an early contrast with the big-donor and "special interest" support candidate Mitt Romney enjoys at this stage of the election cycle.

That message of ownership -- and the Internet -- helped Obama raise 24 percent of the $746 million record in 2008 from individual donations of $200 or less. During the hard-fought primaries, small-dollar donors -- who do not come under Federal Election Commission scrutiny --- were responsible for 30 percent of Obama's individual contributions, and helped the candidate make the case that he had grass-roots backing and the momentum to win.

Among Republican candidates who have disclosed early information about their totals -- and that group excludes Bachmann -- conditions look more challenging than in 2008. The known information is that Republicans pulled in a combined $35 million in the quarter, compared with $53 million raised in the same period in 2008 by Romney, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and McCain.

Romney, with a stated campaign goal of $50 million for the 2012 GOP primaries, reported raising $18.3 million this quarter. That compares with $23 million he raised in the same period in 2007 during his unsuccessful bid for the White House.
In this cycle, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty raised $4.2 million, according to his campaign. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman reported $4.1 million, split among contributions from supporters and an injection from his own family fortune. And Texas Rep. Paul raised at least $4.5 million, his aides said.

Bachmann's tea party support is expected to put the Minnesota representative's fundraising totals at or near the top of the GOP presidential heap. For her congressional re-election campaign, Bachmann raised $2.2 million in the first three months of 2011, including $500,000 for her political action committee.

Despite all the attention on small-dollar donors, Obama will raise the bulk of his war chest for 2012 from big-dollar donors, just as his campaign did in 2008, and just as the GOP nominee is expected to do. Messina said the president will report more than 680,000 total donations in the second quarter, and 552,462 individual donations.

The Obama campaign will file a 15,000-page report with the FEC Friday (July 15), Messina said. It will be studied by rivals and donors alike for information about the campaign's spending to date. Some campaign experts suggest that the Obama team has had to spend significant money to raise money, even with its low-cost Internet expertise and reliance on volunteers. That data will be clear with the official filing. And Obama's early operations nationwide cost the campaign: Messina said the operation now has organizers in all 50 states and has 60 field offices open this summer.

On Saturday (July 15) the campaign will host a national "day of action" to register new voters, Messina said, underscoring the real point of Wednesday's news -- and the reason these campaigns are raising money: to convert dollars into votes.

Alexis Simendinger covers the White House for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at asimendinger@realclearpolitics.com.