President Obama and the Democratic National Committee raised $86 million through the first half of this year. With unemployment high and disposable income stagnant, Obama faces a tough road to reelection. Obama’s job approval is down to an abysmal 39%, its lowest level ever. But a recent CNN/ORC poll found that the Republican Party’s approval rating is somehow an even lower 33%. At the same time Gallup found that Democrats are actually 7 points ahead of Republicans on a generic congressional ballot. And if enthusiasm for Obama is flagging, it hasn’t had much effect on his ability to raise money.
The New York Times put together a fantastic interactive chart comparing the amount of money different candidates have been able to raise. The chart shows that according to Federal Election Commission filings Obama has managed to raise $46 million for his own campaign to date. That’s actually less than the $59 million he had raised at this point in his last presidential run. But the comparison to the last campaign may be misleading. With the presidential race wide open and the economy still doing reasonably well, all the leading candidates of both parties were able to raise more money than they have been able to this year—Hillary Clinton had already raised $63 million by this time during the last campaign.
In fact, Obama has been raising money at about the same rate as he did four years ago, thanks in part to the “Hillraisers” who raised money for Clinton in the last election. Obama has raised less money so far largely because he kicked off his formal campaign later this time around. By comparision, the Republican money leader, Mitt Romney, has raised just $18 million to date—much less than the $44 million he had raised by this time in the last election cycle. All together the Republican field has raised just about $40 million so far, although perhaps some new money will flood in now that Texas Governor Rick Perry has entered the race.
Money alone doesn’t win elections. But it certainly helps. And the ability to raise money is a reasonable indicator of the strength of a candidate’s support. Interestingly, Obama’s campaign contributions are coming more from small donors now than when he ran the first time. So maybe he hasn’t lost too many of his supporters after all.
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Photo credit: Pete Souza