Obama fundraising a flop?

Remember when the Obama campaign hinted that they could raise a billion dollars to keep Barack Obama in the White House?  Good times, good times.  In February, Obama raised $45 million, but that was in partnership with the DNC, which has claim on some of that cash:


President Obama‘s reelection effort added $45 million to its coffers in February, a boost in fundraising as the campaign builds up its national infrastructure.

The $45 million haul was raised jointly by the Democratic National Committee, Obama for America and two joint fundraising committees — the Obama Victory Fund and the Swing State Victory Fund.

According to the campaign, 105,000 of the more than 1.5 million donors last month were giving for the first time. The average donation was $59.04, and 97.7% of donations were in increments of $250 or less.

Obama got $29 million all to himself in January, and February probably won’t be much different; for some reason, the LA Times doesn’t report on how the $45 million in February got split.  Even the joint number is down $12 million from the comparable number in 2008, and the Obama campaign still trails the George W. Bush re-election effort in 2004.  It’s getting so bad that Team Obama leader Jim Messina is acknowledging that Mitt Romney would beat Obama in an election today in an attempt to frighten Democrats into contributing.

So far, the prospect of Obama losing this election doesn’t appear to be too frightening, even to Democrats.

The Washington Post takes notice of the fundraising flop:

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.

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.


Democrats attempt to explain this as a natural reaction to a weak field of potential opponents:

Democrats see a variety of possible explanations for such a dramatic drop in big-dollar contributions. The ailing economy has dampened fundraising overall. Some wealthy liberals and Wall Street executives alike have grown disaffected with the president over time. And the extended Republican primary has shined a spotlight on a field of potential rivals that many Democrats believe Obama will easily beat.

“Some people think these Republicans are easy marks, and they aren’t taking it as seriously as they need to yet,” said Judy Wise, one of Obama’s “bundlers,” the campaign term for people who host events and gather checks from other donors.

Er … riiiiiiiight.  And the use of the economy as a reason for depressed donations is especially telling.  Obama insists that the economic recovery is gaining strength.  If that’s the case, then why would the economy mean fewer donations than in 2008, when the economy was in free fall?

The real problem for Obama is that only the true believers are buying the Hopenchange routine this time around.  Obama has had three years to demonstrate his competence for the job, and he’s failed.  Even his own campaign subtly acknowledges that reality; they’re making campaign ads about 2008, not 2010 and 2011.  Their biggest attack ad so far this cycle was aimed at Sarah Palin, who ran as the VP nominee on the 2008 ticket and isn’t running for office at all this year.  The Obama campaign can’t win a referendum on Obama’s term in office, and they know it — and they can’t effectively raise funds off of it, either.


Update: Jim Geraghty notes that Obama himself attended six separate fundraisers on Friday, a new record.

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Jazz Shaw 8:01 PM on November 29, 2023