Despite intense anti-Obama sentiment and the conservative wave of last fall’s midterms, Republican presidential contenders are struggling in the fundraising battle, even as they do the bidding of bankers and lobbyists for Wall Street.
After taking the House last November in a wave of conservative opposition to President Obama, Republicans now appear to be struggling to match the financial muscle of Democrats heading into the contentious 2012 elections.
The six GOP presidential candidates who have announced results raised a combined $35 million through June 30, including about $18 million by presumed front-runner Mitt Romney. In 2007, Republican candidates had raised more than $118 million by the same stage of the race, according to a new analysis from the Center for Responsive Politics.
The sluggish pace poses a serious complication in Republican efforts to unseat Obama, and suggests GOP donors simply might be less enthusiastic than their Democratic rivals. The Obama campaign, which has not disclosed numbers yet, is expected to report raising at least $60 million — and perhaps as much as $80 million — in conjunction with the national party.
Republican strategists and donors attribute the depressed fundraising to a combination of factors, including a weak economy . But many GOP advisers also acknowledge that the numbers show a remarkable lack of excitement for the current Republican field, which includes two candidates — Romney and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty — who have effectively been running for president since Obama was elected. Pawlenty in particular has struggled to raise money, finishing behind Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) with $4.3 million.
Many wealthy GOP donors, meanwhile, have remained on the sidelines waiting to see whether another candidate such as Texas Gov. Rick Perry might enter the fray.
“Everyone is looking for Superman,” said Brian Ballard, a Florida donor who was a national finance co-chairman for McCain’s 2008 run but has not yet committed to any of the 2012 candidates. “I don’t think there is any other candidate who is going to come in and change the ultimate result, although Governor Perry could raise money.”
Too bad the earnest, unabashed protection of corporate profits and the rich isn’t earning the GOP presidential candidates much love in return.
Of course, outside advocacy groups like Karl Rove-backed Crossroads GPS, which can raise unlimited sums from undisclosed donors and corporations, help to balance things in favor of the GOP, even if Dem outside groups, Labor among them, are ramping up as well.