Despite falling poll numbers and growing economic discontent, there is some good news for President Obama’s reelection chances. According to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission last week, the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had raised a combined $129 million through July. That number is $24 million higher than the $105 million raised by their Republican counterparts.
Although it’s not surprising that the Democrats — who enjoy the huge advantage of having a prodigious fundraiser sitting in the White House — are outpacing the Republicans’ fundraising efforts, the GOP’s low numbers are a cause for concern. According to Politico’s Kenneth P. Vogel, “the disparity is causing some Republicans to fret privately about whether their party committees could dim an otherwise bright outlook” for the 2012 election.
One theory on the Republicans’ less-than-stellar fundraising totals is that donors who would normally give to the Republican committees are instead donating to so-called “Super-PACs” such as Karl Rove’s American Crossroads. That may not be good news for the GOP, as these outside groups — which by law aren’t allowed to communicate directly with campaigns — can’t have as direct an impact on the race as the party committees can. As former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, put it, “At the end of the day, there is only one organization that is going to put the boots on the ground to win an election and that’s the RNC — period.”
The numbers also underscore an important trend: President Obama remains significantly more popular than his policies, or the Democratic Party at large. As long as he remains the face of Democratic politics, they should have no problem raising cash, and that could be the key to his reelection. Obama shattered previous fundraising records in the 2008 election, allowing him to blanket the airwaves with advertisements throughout most of the campaign (most notably on October 28th, when his campaign aired an expensive half-hour long infomercial.) Many pundits believe that President Obama’s huge financial advantage was a key factor in his victory.
If he hopes to be reelected, repeating his fundraising success will be essential. That he is on his way to doing just that is good news for this president and for the Democratic Party.