President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign is straining to raise the huge sums it is counting on to run against Mitt Romney, with sharp drop-offs in donations from nearly every major industry, forcing it to rely more than ever on small contributions and a relative handful of major donors.
From Wall Street to Hollywood, from doctors and lawyers, the traditional big sources of campaign cash are not delivering for the Obama campaign as they did four years ago. The falloff has left his fundraising totals running behind where they were at the same point in 2008 — though still well ahead of Romney’s — and has raised concern among aides and supporters as they confront the prospect that Republicans and their super PAC allies will hold a substantial advantage this fall.
With big checks no longer flowing as quickly into his campaign, Obama is leaning harder on his grass-roots supporters, whose small contributions make up well over half of the money he raised through the end of March, according to reports filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission.
About 58 percent of Obama’s total fundraising during the election has come in checks of less than $200, compared with about 38 percent in 2008.
And Obama is asking far more of large donors still giving, exploiting his joint fundraising arrangement with the Democratic National Committee to collect five-figure checks from individuals who have given the maximum $5,000 contribution to his re-election campaign.
“They clearly are feeling the pressure,” said one major Obama fundraiser, who asked for anonymity to characterize his conversations with campaign officials. “They’re behind where they expected to be. You have to factor in $500 million-plus in Republican super PAC money.”
With no primary to excite his base and the economy struggling to rebound, Obama’s campaign raised about $196 million through March, compared with $235 million at the same point in 2008.