Barack Obama has more money in his campaign bank account than Republican challenger Mitt Romney, and the president is using his funds early -- outspending the former Massachusetts governor by about 2-to-1 last month.
Obama entered July with $97.5 million in the bank, and used a part of it to run 35,347 television ads in the 14-day period ending July 16, according to New York-based Kantar Media’s CMAG. The Romney campaign, which began July with $22.5 million, aired 16,946 spots during that period. Since more than 97 percent of those commercials were negative, that meant voters saw twice as many campaign-funded ads attacking Romney rather than Obama.
Romney’s side has been able to take in more money than Obama’s during the last two months as both men raise money jointly with their political parties, which can take in larger donations than the candidate committees alone. The difference is that Obama can directly control his money, while Romney must rely more on party leaders.
“It is always better to have money controlled by the campaign, but the parties air spots that are consistent with the candidates’ messages,” said Tobe Berkovitz, a professor of communication at Boston University. “Party-run spots rarely cause problems for their candidates.”
Obama continued to draw down his campaign account, spending $58.1 million last month with $43 million for advertising, including broadcast and online. Romney spent $27.5 million during the month, less than half as much as Obama, with $11.1 million going for media.
“President Obama’s campaign will never have a more substantial advertising advantage than it has had over the past few weeks, yet there is no evidence to suggest that the ballot has moved,” Romney’s pollster, Neil Newhouse, said in a July 16 memo.
Obama raised $45.9 million last month and has now taken in more than $307 million for his campaign. Romney brought in $33 million and has now raised more than $156 million.
Romney received $79,355 from employees of London-based Barclays Plc, whose chairman, chief executive officer and chief operating officer all resigned after the bank agreed to pay $456 million for manipulating the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, a benchmark interest rate. The former CEO, Robert Diamond, also dropped out as a co-host of a London fundraiser for Romney. A Barclays lobbyist, Patrick Durkin, is a Romney fundraiser.
Barclays was followed in contributions by employees of Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Employees of those three companies and those of Goldman Sachs Group are the four biggest sources of contributions to Romney’s presidential campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group that tracks campaign donations.
Employees of Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc., among the top four givers to Obama’s campaign to date, were his two biggest sources of donations last month, giving $41,124 and $38,086 respectively, according to a computer-assisted analysis of FEC data. IBM Corp. employees contributed $36,059.
Obama also released an updated list of his top fundraisers, adding 60 names to those who have raised more than $500,000 for his campaign, including Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. Romney has refused to identify his top fundraisers except for the registered lobbyists he is required to report in FEC filings.
The combined bank balances of the Romney campaign committee, the Republican National Committee and the joint fundraising committee totaled $170 million at the end of June, compared with $144 million for Obama’s side. While Obama’s campaign accounts for 68 percent of the money his side has to spend, Romney directly controls only 13 percent of his funds.
Romney’s money advantage increases when super-political action committees are included. Restore Our Future, the pro-Romney super-PAC, had $21.6 million in the bank at the end of June. American Crossroads, which is also supporting Romney, had a balance of $31.5 million.
Priorities USA Action, the super-PAC formed by former Obama aides, reported $2.8 million cash on hand.
“As long as the super-PAC and the parties stick with a message similar to the candidate they support, then Romney has the money advantage,” said David Primo, a political science professor at the University of Rochester in New York. “The danger for Romney is that one of the super-PACs supporting him pursues an alternative and harmful strategy, causing the additional funding to hurt, not help.”
Restore Our Future amassed $20.7 million in June, largely through big checks from familiar Republican donors. Las Vegas casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his wife gave $10 million. The Adelson family had supported Newt Gingrich’s failed run for the Republican nomination, with $21.5 million in contributions to a super-PAC that backed the former U.S. House speaker’s candidacy.
Houston home builder Bob Perry gave $2 million, bringing his total donations to $6 million. William Koch, the brother of energy billionaires David and Charles Koch, contributed $1 million through his Oxbow Carbon LLC. Through personal checks and his companies, William Koch has donated $3 million in all.
Perry also gave $2 million to American Crossroads, co-founded by two former aides to President George W. Bush, Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, the latter now an adviser to Romney. He earlier gave $2.5 million to the super-PAC. American Crossroads raised $5.8 million last month.
Priorities USA Action raised $6.2 million. Irwin Jacobs, the former chairman of Qualcomm Inc., contributed $2 million, and actor Morgan Freeman donated $1 million.