Obama Campaign’s Money Troubles

There are a lot of different ways, positive and negative, to look at the trajectory of the Obama campaign’s fundraising efforts. In a big front-page piece for the New York Times today, Nick Confessore and Derek Willis are mostly downbeat, emphasizing the problems Team Obama is having in pulling down the big bucks from big donors:

With no primary to excite his base, the economy struggling to rebound, and four years of political battles with Wall Street and other industries taking their toll, Mr. Obama’s campaign raised about $196 million through March, compared with $235 million at the same point in 2008. It has lagged behind its own internal quotas in some cities, according to people involved with the fund-raising efforts. But that has been offset by a highly successful joint fund-raising program with the national committee, which raised about $150 million, twice as much as in 2008.

All told, Mr. Obama and the Democratic committee ended March with about $130 million in cash on hand, a sizable war chest and far more than Mr. Romney and the Republican National Committee. Candidates typically raise more as the election nears, and Mr. Obama’s fund-raising accelerated sharply in the summer of 2008.

While the Obama campaign’s overall fundraising goal (including money he raises for the DNC) is about $750 million, that figure could fall well short of the levels deployed against him; Super-PACs alone could spend a half-billion in anti-Obama ads. On the other hand, most political scientists will tell you that paid media is a vastly overrated asset in presidential general elections, and that all Team Obama needs financially is to stay relatively competitive. Obama is also expected to hold a significant advantage in GOTV infrastructure, in which his campaign has heavily invested while Romney struggled to nail down the nomination.

But all that won’t keep the Obama folk from poor-mouthing, or from battering its many low-dollar supporters with endless text and emails begging for the means to pay the light and water bills.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.