Besides the guarantee of this being one of if not, the most highly contested presidential elections in our nations history, it will also be known for being the most expensive to date.
In 2008, President Obama almost reached a billion dollars, clocking in at just over $746 million dollars, and his campaign is confident in hitting the 10-digit number, as is the campaign of former Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney. As of now, President Obama has $217,052,304 in his war chest, while Romney sits at $97,963,836. Romney’s cash flow should increase significantly now that he has clinched the republican nomination.
When it comes to Super PACs (Political Action Committees), the president enjoys contributions from three main contributors: 1911 United, LetOurPresidentLead.com, and Priorities USA Action. The most significant of the three being Priorities USA Action at $10,578,305 while 1911 United reports having given $62,652. More telling are the donations he receives from individual contributions.
Individual contributions are broken into two groups: small and large donations. So far, individual contributions for the president total $216,592,251 with small donations at $96,046,158 (44%) and large donations at $123,262,276 (57%). In the last election, President Obama enjoyed a significant amount of support from voters. While poll numbers have slipped a bit, he is still very likeable now and it’s attracting voters just like the election in 2008, where his campaign took full advantage of the internet allowing people who normally don’t get involved to donate whatever amount they could. It worked, drawing in internet savvy voters by the millions who felt that for the first time they had a candidate who was young, vibrant and understood them.
Romney on the other hand has some problems. For starters, he is not as likeable as President Obama is. A May 8 Gallup poll has President Obama enjoying a 61% lead to Romney’s 31% when it comes to how likeable they both are. People are not as willing to give you money if they do not like you and if Romney cannot change the public’s view of him, he will have to rely on most of his funding coming from Super PACs. More important than funding is the people’s perception of you and Romney needs to work on connecting with voters on a personal level, if he plans to turn those numbers around.
When it comes to donations, Romney has support from 14 Super PACs with the highest reported contribution coming from Restore Our Future at $56,512,635. Small individual contributions clocked in at $11,578,860 (12%) with large individual contributions at $86,591,981 (88%). Unlike the president however, Romney has contributed $52,500 of his own wealth while the president reported having 0% of his own money involved. Neither candidate has accepted Federal Funds although that could change in the future.
So what does this all mean?
Undoubtedly, both candidates have support from an enthusiastic voter base; the source of that enthusiasm is what is in question. For the president, the little things truly do add up. Having more private citizens donating whatever they can gives the impression that the people (for the most part) are behind him. Alternatively, Romney seems to have the support from donors with deeper pockets, and that could mean significantly larger donations going forward. People who have money–and pay high taxes because of it–want to keep that money and if they feel that they are in serious financial danger, they will gravitate towards the candidate who has the better plan for the economy. President Obama also has an issue with being honest, keeping campaign promises from last election has not been a priority with his administration and that could come back to haunt him going forward. If enough people jump ship due to lack of confidence, it could give Mitt Romney what he needs to not only win, but also win big. He has an excellent staff that is quick to respond to the administration so be prepared for a constant barrage of political ads reminding us that the president didn’t keep his word before so what makes you think he will now. A classic case of the devil that you know versus the one that you don’t.
Let the spectacle begin.