The Washington Post reports today that the Obama campaign juggernaut is sputtering. It’s having trouble bringing in the high dollar donors.
President Obama is struggling to draw in big-dollar donations, with half as many people writing large checks to his campaign than at this point four years ago.
Obama is outpacing his Republican rivals in fundraising overall, and his advisers have concentrated on amassing small-dollar backers, part of a strategy to get more people invested in the reelection effort. At the end of January, 1.4 million people had donated to the Obama campaign, responding to appeals for contributions as small as $2.
That small donor number is interesting. The Obama campaign has waged an email campaign of, essentially, raffling the married President of the United States off for dinner and a date over the past several months. There is some method to the madness, in that the barrier for entry is low enough that just about anyone can afford to buy a ticket and believe that they’re playing. The campaign can build up an email list from these donors, which it can and will tap for more money along the way. But it takes a whole lot of lottery suckers to make up for one defection at the high dollar end, and Obama has suffered a high number of high dollar defectors.
But Obama lags behind Republican front-runner Mitt Romney in finding donors willing to give $2,000 or more — a surprising development for a sitting president, and one that could signal more worrisome financial problems heading into the general election. At this point in the last election cycle, Obama had received such large donations from more than 23,000 supporters, more than double the 11,000 who have given him that much this time. President George W. Bush had more than four times that number of big donations at this point in his reelection.
It’s not all that surprising. Obama has waged war on the wealthy. His policies are openly geared toward redistribution rather than creation of wealth. Re-electing him promises nothing so much as more irresponsible spending, and more tax increases, for more of his redistribution. And higher energy prices.
The Post does its best to miss another relevant part of the story.
Whatever the reason, Obama appears to be redoubling his efforts to extract bigger contributions from his support base. He has stepped up his fundraising events in recent weeks, taking swings through several different regions for more than 40 events in 2012. On Friday, the president did five events in two states with an expected haul of at least $5.5 million.
The campaign typically holds three or more events with different donation levels in one evening, part of a strategy to make Obama available to different types of people. The biggest event Friday featured singer Cee Lo Green at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta. Tickets were $500 with a $2,500 donation for VIP access and a $10,000 donation for a photo with the president.
Mention Cee Lo Green, but not the singer’s profane antics at the fundraiser? While the president is allegedly on another “civility” kick? Maybe the Post is just blissfully unaware of Obama’s rank hypocrisy, but millions of voters aren’t.
The Obama campaign will still go into the general election with a money edge over the GOP nominee, mainly because he has not had to burn up as much money in the Democrats’ uncontested primary. But the advantage probably won’t be as large as Obama anticipated or needed. The RNC under Reince Priebus is outraising the DNC under Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, whose loudmouth media antics may also be turning donors off. And the GOP super PACs will probably outraise the Democrats’ counterparts.
This isn’t to say that Obama is broke. But he won’t be the billion dollar president, and as a result of pulling in fumes lately, he’s likely to spend even more of his time trying to hit the same reluctant donors over and over again.