For months, Democrats have been despairing about the fundraising machine that is the Mitt Romney campaign, warning in campaign speeches, media interviews and frantic e-emails that the GOP’s massive cash advantage could seriously impair President Barack Obama’s chances of winning a second term.
That fear was apparently unfounded. Obama ended the month of August with almost twice as much money to spend as his Republican rival, according to campaign finance records filed late Thursday. The Obama campaign ended the month with $88.8 million, compared to the $50.4 million reported by the Romney campaign. However, because the Romney number included $15 million loans that must be paid, the campaign actually ended the month with only $35.4 million.
August was an enormously successful fundraising month for the Obama campaign. The president brought in $84.7 million last month, outpacing Romney’s $66.6 million.
About $25 million of Obama’s haul came from donors who contributed $200 or less. In an email to reporters, Katie Hogan, a deputy press secretary to the Obama campaign, said the August report “shows that the grassroots continue to be the backbone of this campaign.”
Meanwhile, the Romney campaign continued to rely on a smaller, but generous, base. Fifty-eight percent of its donations, or $38 million, came from donors who contributed a minimum of $2,500.
The GOP likely expected to see a fundraising bump last month, when the Republican National Convention and the announcement of Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate was expected to excite the party faithful, particularly small-dollar donors. However, only $9.45 million of the Romney's campaign's August haul came from small donors.
But Romney does have one significant advantage: the Republican National Committee. The party committee, which has a massive contribution limit of $30,800, raised $35 million in August and reportedly has $76 million in its war chest – more than ten times more than the $7.1 million reported by the Democratic National Committee.
As a result, together the Romney camp and the RNC currently hold $127 million to Obama and the DNC’s $96 million, giving the GOP a marginal advantage heading into the last two months of the campaign. But it’s worth noting a majority of the funding sits with the RNC, a committee the Romney campaign does not control.
But while the Romney campaign continues to rake in large sums, it has been reluctant to part with that cash. It spent only $18.4 million on advertising in August, while the Obama campaign flooded the air with advertisements with its $65 million budget.
Those advertisements, which have typically portrayed Romney as an out-of-touch millionaire whose privileged lifestyle has left him incapable of empathizing with the struggles of average Americans, may have left a negative impression on voters during a crucial part of the election cycle.
In fact, that’s already evident. Romney is the only major party candidate in recent history to have an upside-down favorability rating – that is, more voters have a negative rather than positive opinion of him – according to the Pew Research Center.