Donors losing enthusiasm for Obama

In 2008, Barack Obama drew huge crowds everywhere he went, whether for rallies or for fundraisers.  In 2012 … not so much.  The Weekly Standard and the New York Times report that a Denver fundraiser yesterday afternoon ended up less than 80% of capacity:

According to today’s White House pooler, the New York Times‘s Peter Baker, “The crowd was obviously supportive and glad to see him, though the room at times felt a little flat and Potus seemed a little tired after a long day that’s not even close to being over.” (The president has two more fundraisers tonight in Los Angeles.)

Moreover, the campaign announced that the president “[would] headline a reception for 700 at the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center. General admission tickets started at $500 apiece, though a selected number of Gen44 and Grassroots tickets were available for $250.”

The campaign now says, according to the pooler, that only 550 people showed up.

Well, that’s Colorado.  Obama won it in 2008, but it’s a tough state for both parties in national elections.  Surely, Obama’s doing better among his base, right?  According to the Boston Globe, not in Massachusetts:

The number of Massachusetts supporters contributing the maximum to President Obama’s campaign fund has plunged nearly 50 percent compared with his 2008 fledgling run, reflecting a sharp drop in enthusiasm after the president’s first term.

The decline has forced Democrats to make up the difference with bigger contributions from fewer donors. Cash from an elite corps of Massachusetts backers has gushed into the Democratic National Committee, which has much higher contribution limits than the Obama campaign.

What changed?

“It’s harder to get quite as galvanized about his reelection as compared to when he was purely a symbol of incredible promise, without the baggage of four years of reality dragging him down,’’ said Gabor Garai, a Boston attorney and Obama fund-raiser who has tapped a network of contributors for both campaigns. “Today we have an incumbent president who’s had to face some enormous difficulties.’’

Translation: Four years ago, this guy was a cipher.  Now he has a track record.  Obama’s track record makes it a lot more difficult to gin up enthusiasm, especially on Wall Street, thanks to Obama’s attacks on the wealthy and on private equity, as the New York Times explains:

Last week, a few dozen hedge fund and investment executives arrived at the Park Avenue home of Hamilton E. James, president of the private equity firm Blackstone. Each had paid $35,800 to spend two hours at a fund-raiser withPresident Obama, but the timing proved awkward: A few hours earlier, Mr. Obama’s campaign had begun a blistering attack on Mitt Romney’s career in private equity, the same business in which Mr. James has earned his many millions.

“Campaigns do what campaigns have to do,” Mr. James later told friends. But not everyone was as forgiving. “People were incredulous,” said one person who attended the dinner. “They could have waited a week.”

Debates over how much to blame — and regulate — Wall Street have stoked tensions between Democrats and the financial industry ever since Mr. Obama took office amid a financial crisis. But now Mr. Obama is leveraging his bully pulpit and advertising dollars to argue that Mr. Romney’s career as a successful financial executive exhibited values that are not those of a good president.

In doing so, he has not only drawn criticism from allies like Steven L. Rattner, the investor and former adviser on the auto industry, and Cory A. Booker, the mayor of Newark and a favorite of New York’s hedge fund world. Mr. Obama may also be testing a bond first formed by Bill Clinton, who persuaded much of his party’s elite that Democrats could be both populist and friendly to Wall Street.

“I think the consensus, such as it was, has badly eroded under the pressure of events,” said William Galston, a former Clinton adviser who is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “The depth, the severity, and the length of the Great Recession have exacerbated strains within the country and within the Democratic coalition.”

Actually, it just means the masks have slipped.  Obama is no longer a cipher or a blank screen on which to project one’s own fantasies, but an old-school New Leftist who resorts to class warfare when threatened.  Small wonder, then, that the people who have succeeded in American business have begun to lose enthusiasm for the prospect of another four years of being demonized by the White House.

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