Obama, DNC February Fundraising Shows Weakness Versus 2008

By Matt Cover | March 20, 2012 | 5:30am EDT

President Barack Obama speaks during a 'Lawyers for Obama Luncheon' fundraiser, Friday, March, 16, 2012, at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(CNSNews.com)The entire Obama reelection effort raised a reported $45 million in February, according to a video released by the campaign. That figure is well below the $56.8 million Obama raised all by himself in 2008.

According to an Obama campaign video released Sunday, Obama’s campaign, the Democratic National Committee, the Obama Victory Fund, and Swing State Victory Fund combined to raise $45 million in February.

However, according to Federal Election Commission data, that $45 million is well below what the Obama campaign alone was able to raise in during the same period in 2008.

Further, Obama’s 2008 fundraising numbers came when Democratic donors were split between the then-Senator’s campaign and that of former Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.). Today, Obama runs unopposed, conducting record numbers of fundraising events across the country and having the Democratic donor base all to himself.

That Obama and the Democrats can’t come close to his 2008 total, despite having the president himself as a headliner, lends credence to the theory that enthusiasm for Obama is less intense than it was and that he may fall well short of the $1 billion some projected his campaign could raise in 2012.

A Washington Post story Monday reported that – unlike past incumbent presidents – Obama seems to be having trouble courting high-dollar donors. Those donors – who give $2,000 or more – are usually the easiest to attract for a sitting president.

Another sign that Obama may be facing difficulty raising money was the president’s very public reversal on super-PACs. Obama once called the special political action committees – which can raise unlimited amounts of money – a “threat to our democracy” but reversed himself over fears that super PACs supporting Republican candidates would outspend his campaign.

According to the Post’s reporting, Obama has about half as much money in the bank as former President George W. Bush had at the same point in his reelection campaign. Obama and the DNC have approximately $74 million in the bank compared to Bush and the RNC’s $144 million at the same point in 2004.

RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said the difference between 2012 and 2008 for Obama shows that even Democrats are unenthusiastic about Obama’s reelection, something she blamed on the president’s failed policies.

“After three years of policies that have left our country with record debt, high unemployment, and soaring gas prices and healthcare costs, it’s clear President Obama is having a hard time convincing voters he deserves another term,” Kukowski said. “The president who ran on change and hope has left our country wanting and whether it’s showing in fundraising or in the polls, Americans are enthusiastic about replacing him in November.”

Early fundraising allows campaigns to plan for the home stretch in the fall by doing things like setting up state-wide organizations, recruiting volunteers, staffing field offices, and laying the basic groundwork they will need to win in November.

Federal law allows campaigns to again raise funds from the same donors following their party’s convention in late summer, making early-season fundraising essential for a candidate to be able to hit the ground running once the election heats up in September and October.

Without significant early-season fundraising, candidates will have to juggle heavy fundraising with non-stop campaigning as they try to win supporters at the same time they’re also trying to establish the bedrock of any campaign – organization.

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