Obama coming up short of Big Money
[Posted by Karl]
The WaPo reports on fat cats with short arms:
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.
As the WaPo also notes, Obama has been encouraging limousine liberals to dump cash into superPACs. But many Obama mega-donors are turned off by the effort. Moreover, earlier this month, Karl Rove pointed out the problem with the small donor narrative being pushed by Team Obama:
The Obama campaign itself reported that fewer than 7% of 2008 donors renewed their support in the first quarter of his re-election campaign. That’s about one-quarter to one-third of a typical renewal rate: In the first quarter of the Bush re-election campaign, for example, about 20% of the donors renewed their support.
There are other troubling signs. Team Obama’s email appeals don’t ask for $10, $15, $25 or $50 donations as they did in 2008, but generally for $3. Nor are the appeals mostly about issues; many are lotteries. Give three bucks and your name will be put in a drawing for a private dinner with the president and first lady.
This is clever marketing, but it suggests the campaign has found that only a low price point with a big benefit can overcome donor resistance among people who contributed via mail or the Internet in 2008. It also points to higher-than-expected solicitation costs and lower-than-expected fund-raising returns.
It is tempting to attribute this all to the lack of a primary challenge to Obama or the perceived weakness of the GOP field. But both the WaPo and Rove note the degree to which Obama falls short in comparison to the Bush ’04 reelect campaign. Moreover, the primary turnout for Obama has lagged the Clinton ’96 reelect effort in states where comparable data is available.
Once the GOP has a nominee, Obama may be able to squeeze more cash out of the recalcitrant progs. At that point, he will really be able to turn up the fear and loathing on the campaign trail (likely with liberal lacings of guilt). The 20 most politically active commercial banks, hedge funds, securities firms and “private equity and investment” firms may be avoiding the president now, but will likely hedge their exposure in a close race. Nevertheless, the balance sheets are another reminder that the lefty chatter may think fantasy Obama has this election in the bag, the real Obama knows better.