President Barack Obama announced raising $42.8 million for his re-election from July through September, the fourth-largest fundraising quarter ever in a non-election year.
Combined with $27.3 million for the Democratic National Committee, the Obama campaign operation took in $70 million in the last three months.
Obama has now taken in $89 million for his 2012 campaign. Four years ago, he raised $80 million through Sept. 30, 2007, when he started raising money three months earlier. His six-month fundraising total is second only to the $98 million for George W. Bush from July through December 1999, Federal Election Commission records show.
“Democrats realize that Obama will face a very tough reelection fight,” said David Primo, a political science professor at the University of Rochester in New York.
Bush, running for re-election, raised $50 million from July through September 2003 and $48 million from October through December. Obama’s $46.3 million from April through June and the $42.8 million announced today are third and fourth-biggest fundraising quarters in non-election years recorded by the FEC.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in an e-mail to supporters that 606,027 people donated to the campaign from June to September, and 98 percent of the donations were $250 or less. Combined with his previous fundraising, Obama has now taken in money from 982,967 people, Messina said.
“Getting to a million grassroots donors isn’t just a huge accomplishment this early in the campaign,” Messina said in the e-mail. “It’s our answer to our opponents, the press and anyone who wants to know whether the president’s supporters have his back.”
While Messina touted Obama’s fundraising, Primo and other campaign finance experts say that it could be a sign of weakness as well. Obama faces declining poll numbers amid an economy with 9.1 percent unemployment.
The president has acknowledged his fallen standing, calling himself the underdog in the 2012 presidential campaign in an Oct. 3 interview with ABC News.
Four years ago, Obama faced a primary challenge from Hillary Rodham Clinton, now secretary of state; Joe Biden, now vice president, and other Democrats. This time, he has no primary opposition so all of the money he raises can be spent toward his re-election.
“He had formidable challengers in the Democratic Party and now he’s the only game in town,” said Costas Panagopoulos, director of the Center for Electoral Politics and Democracy at Fordham University in New York. “One could say he could have raised a lot more in this cycle. This reinforces the notion that Obama is a voracious fundraiser but his campaign is fighting an uphill battle for both dollars and votes.”
The combined total of $70 million was more than the campaign’s $55 million goal though less than the $86 million the campaign and the party took in from April to June. Obama and the DNC are holding joint fundraisers where donors can contribute up to $35,800 to the campaign and the party.
The campaign lowered its goal for the third quarter after several fundraisers were canceled because Obama was engaged in the congressional debate over raising the U.S. debt ceiling, Matthew Barzun, the campaign’s national finance committee chairman, told Bloomberg News in September.
Obama raised a record $745 million for his 2008 campaign. Messina has dismissed as speculation suggestions that the campaign will raise $1 billion this election cycle.
Obama’s top bundlers, who solicit money from a wide circle of donors, have been asked to collect at least $350,000 this year alone. Four years ago, members of Obama’s national finance committee were asked to raise $250,000 for the 2007-08 cycle.
On the Republican side of the race, the campaign for Texas Governor Rick Perry said Oct. 5 that it raised more than $17 million during the third quarter.
His money, disclosed to the FEC in advance of an Oct. 15 reporting date, likely will exceed anything raised by his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination during the quarter.
U.S. Representative Ron Paul, a Texas Republican, said Oct. 5 that he raised more than $8 million in the quarter, which could be third-most among the Republican presidential contenders in the most recent quarter.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who leads in some national polls of Republicans, hasn’t released his fundraising total. He could report up to $14 million in the quarter, according to a person close to the campaign who spoke on condition of anonymity because the campaign hasn’t authorized the disclosure.