Has the economy improved over the last three quarters?  Not for Barack Obama and the DNC.  The last quarter of fundraising in 2011 brought in a combined total of $68 million, the lowest of the three reporting quarters last year for both:

President Obama’s reelection campaign and the Democratic National Committee raised a combined $68 million in the last quarter of 2011, campaign manager Jim Messina said in a video e-mailed to supporters on Thursday morning.

The Obama campaign raised $42 million, while the DNC raised the remaining $24 million. Those numbers track closely to third-quarter hauls of $43 million and $27 million, respectively.

It fell a couple of million short combined from Q3, as the National Journal notes, but that’s just half of the story.  The Q3 numbers represented a 20% decline from Q2’s $86 million, the first quarter of fundraising for the campaign.  So far, Obama on his own has raised $131.8 million in three quarters for an average of $44 million a quarter, a lower average than after the first two quarters.

Campaign manager Jim Messina says Obama’s still doing better than Republicans:

Messina struck an optimistic note on such engagement, arguing that it stands in “stark contrast” to that of the GOP.

“Recent polls and studies show a dropping enthusiasm among Republican primary voters as they get to know their field,” he said.

Mitt Romney, the front-runner in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, raised $24 million in the last quarter of 2011, bringing his total since kicking off his campaign in June to $56 million.

That’s an apples-to-oranges argument, though.  Romney raised more than half of what Obama did in a split field during a primary.  Republican contributors have a half-dozen candidates from which to choose, while Democrats only have Obama.  It’s not a surprise that Obama outraised Romney, but it’s notable that he’s not outraising him by a lot.

Compare this instead to the last incumbent President who ran for re-election, George Bush in 2004.  His Q3 fundraising in 2003 was $50 million, and he raised another $47.5 million in 2003 Q4.  He finished the year at $132.7 million raised, which Obama missed by about a million dollars — and these are not figures adjusted for inflation, either.

Messina might be paid to put a bright spin on this performance, but at this rate, maybe not for long.  Instead of running a billion-dollar campaign, he’s underperforming George W. Bush.  Bush ended up working within the public-finance system that year, but he raised tons of money right through to the convention in August, finishing with $260.5 million in contributions and $36 million in the bank.  At the rate Obama’s going, he’ll raise about $257 million and still have to spend his own money in September and October. Maybe Obama should have “fixed” that “broken” public financing system when he had the chance.