WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama collected $86 million combined for his re-election campaign and the Democratic party during the past three months, giving him a large fundraising advantage over the Republican field seeking to challenge him in 2012.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in a video posted early today that it raised more than $47 million and the Democratic National Committee brought in more than $38 million through the end of June, building a foundation for advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts in next year’s election. Obama’s team had set a public goal of $60 million combined.
As expected, the fundraising totals outpace Republicans, who have collectively raised about $35 million so far, although some candidates have yet to release their results. At the same time in 2007, 10 GOP presidential hopefuls had raised more than $118 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads the GOP field in fundraising, pulling in more than $18 million during the past three months. An independent fundraising group supporting Romney’s presidential bid has raised $12 million this year.
Following Romney, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty collected $4.2 million and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman brought in $4.1 million, with about half coming from his personal wealth. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, a tea party favorite, has not yet released her fundraising totals.
Obama’s advisers have told donors privately they hope to match or exceed the $750 million they raised in 2008, anticipating a stiff challenge from Republicans amid rocky economic conditions. Obama has acknowledged he will need to re-energize supporters who were inspired by his message of hope and change three years ago but may be discouraged by the economy and the pace of change.
“We have reason to be proud of what we’ve built so far but it’s going to get tougher from here,” Messina said in the video, estimating outside spending by GOP groups could exceed $500 million.
American Crossroads, founded by Karl Rove, a former adviser to President George W. Bush, and Americans For Prosperity, founded by billionaire oil brothers David and Charles Koch, spent heavily in the 2010 elections and have pledged to invest millions in 2012 to defeat Obama. Several Democratic groups have formed to compete with the conservative groups, including Priorities USA, which was founded by former Obama White House aides Sean Sweeney and Bill Burton. Their group has set a goal of raising $100 million for the campaign.
Messina said more than 550,000 people donated money to the campaign during the first three months, a large increase from about 180,000 donors to Obama during the first half of 2007. The campaign has actively courted small donors, hoping to show that the president is in a good position for the 2012 campaign and capable of generating broad financial support.
About 98 percent of the donors gave $250 or less. Messina said the average donation was about $69.
Obama broke his previous fundraising record of $33.1 million during the same quarter in 2007 and surpassed finance efforts by his predecessors. President George W. Bush launched his re-election bid in mid-May 2003 and raised $34.4 million through June 2003. In his first complete fundraising quarter, Bush raised another $50 million, bringing his total to nearly $85 million by the end of September 2003.
Republicans vowed to compete with Obama next year and said economic conditions would outweigh any fundraising edge.
“With the economy in the tank, the president can’t win re-election,” said Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Obama’s team had said it hoped to collect a combined $60 million for the campaign and the DNC for the three-month fundraising period that ended June 30. Obama opened his re-election campaign in early April and his advisers said the initial fundraising efforts were crucial to building a strong campaign.
Messina said the money is building the campaign’s ground game more than a year before Election Day, saying the campaign has “more grassroots support at this point in the process than any campaign in political history.” Obama’s team has opened 60 field offices across the nation and held more than 31,000 face-to-face meetings with volunteers.
Campaign finance reports are due Friday, and Messina estimated the Obama campaign’s report would exceed 15,000 pages.
Obama has held dozens of fundraisers for his campaign and the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising account set up by the DNC and Obama’s campaign. At Victory Fund events, the first $5,000 of a donor’s contribution goes to the presidential campaign and the remainder goes to the DNC, up to a maximum of $30,800 a year.