The New Rules Of Campaign Finance: Small Dollars Are No Longer King

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Four years ago, the presidential campaign was a celebration of the little guy. Two thirds of the money raised by Barack Obama came online, and 34% of his money came from donors who gave less than $200. This cycle, Obama is doing even better than he did in 2008 with small donors. Through June, 2.4 million Americans have given to his campaign, a benchmark not reached in 2008 until August. And yet, the little guy is no longer king.

“We’re not scared,” Obama campaign manager Jim Messina told me last week. “We’re realistic.” He was explaining a grim and surprising fact for the Obama campaign: The President and his allies will almost certainly be outspent this cycle by Mitt Romney and his allies.

The reasons are three fold: First, Romney has proven to be a great fundraiser among high-dollar donors, far better than John McCain who always saw money in politics as an unseemly business. Second, Romney’s donors are not just giving to his campaign; they are giving six and seven figure checks to outside groups, which thanks to recent court rulings, can now spend that money on advertising up to election day. Third, Obama is having trouble raising as much money as he did in 2008 from Americans who give the legal maximum. Through June, Romney’s campaign raised the maximum contribution of $2,500 from more than 33,000 Americans, compared with roughly 18,800 who gave that much to Obama, according to a study by the Campaign Finance Institute.

The impact of this shift may reshape presidential politics for years to come, and it is the subject of a piece in this week’s magazine. (The full article is here, available to subscribers.) “After this election’s over, it is much more likely that all the candidates in both parties will be meeting with billionaires than figuring out how to mobilize millions of people,” says Joe Trippi, who managed Howard Dean’s 2004 campaign, which pioneered small dollar online fundaising. “It will be a huge setback.”

Scott Reed, who ran Bob Dole’s 1996 campaign, explained the shift this way: “When you go to set up a campaign in 2016, you are going  to peel off a third of your senior staff and say, ‘Go start a super PAC. We’ll see you after the campaign.’”

The failure to do this may be the single biggest strategic mistake that the Obama campaign has made this cycle. The President waited until February of this year to embrace Priorities USA, the outside group supporting his reelection, and has so far failed to do the same level of high-dollar donor schmoozing that Romney long embraced. In the future, it is difficult to imagine a candidate from either party making the same mistake.

“The president is going to raise massive amounts,” former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland told me on a recent campaign swing through his state. “But what about four years from now, when the next Democrat runs for president. If we don’t find someway to respond to this it’s going to turn us into a plutocracy, where very few people control the public agenda.”

(PHOTOS: Political Pictures of the Week, July 21-27)

29 comments
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john
john

like Ricky

responded I'm surprised that some people can profit $4924 in a few weeks

on the internet. have you seen this page http://LazyCash49.com

Bruce Bodner
Bruce Bodner

Time Mag = Democrat Rag !

It's tough to find a more biased cover than "White House for Sale, Republicans plan to buy the election"

I only subscribed because I got a year for about $4 I think, but never again !

How can you be so biased ?  Why don't you devote an issue to how the democrat programs have put us 15 trillion in debt?  

A laughingstock of a once great magazine.

David Mitchell
David Mitchell

We should all realize that too much is being spent on elections.  What we need is for candidates to present their case in a 10-page summary that everyone can hold in their hand.  Ten pages, period.  Done.  If you agree, join http://www.facebook.com/Presid... 

3xfire3
3xfire3

So much Democratic talk and concerns about campaign money.

We didn't hear any of that in 2008 when Obama went back on his word about using only government funding in his campaign. He outraised McCain by massive amounts of money. A very large amount of that money came from rich people from all over the country.

No democrat complained at all when Obama benefited from all that cash.

Now that it looks like Romney is getting more money from his millionaire supporters than Obama's getting from his millionaire supporters and you would think the world in coming to an end.

Liberals are total hypocrites.

 

NicHautamaki
NicHautamaki

Obama outraised McCain on the strength of large numbers of small dollar donors.  Since small dollar donors are the constituency most progressives want to see as the most influential in politics, naturally progressives are not going to have a problem with small dollar donors being the key contributors to political campaigns.  Counting millionaires and billionaires only, iirc it was a wash though if you have some sort of evidence to the contrary feel free to post it. 

Since then, the game has changed: there's no longer a limit on what a single billionaire can donate, and the billionaires who have no compunction about throwing money into politics by and large greatly favor Romney over Obama.  If the billionaires who want to preserve their supreme-court-given-right to buy elections is the constituency you want to see with the greatest influence over the next administration, I guess I can see why you'd likewise have no problem with the present state of affairs.

apr2563
apr2563

Michael, like the financial reporters who seem to be surprised by the latest financial scandal, many in the traditional media seem surprised that our country is being bought by the plutocrats.  This trend is ongoing.

They will not be happy until:

unions no longer exit

public schools are privatized

no more minimum wage

pensions destroyed

social security privatized

medicare destroyed

prisons privatized

no regulations

and much more.

We serfs will live outside the castle and will not be able to cross the moat.

Bruce Bodner
Bruce Bodner

uh, its "exist" .  Unions unfortunately for the public schools, already "no longer exit" lol

apr2563
apr2563

Thanks for the correction.  I taught when the NEA was starting to get some strength.  We finally got health care.  It is so sad to see all the progress that was made being destroyed. 

NicHautamaki
NicHautamaki

The society you envision already exists in China.  It has its advantages and disadvantages and don't get me wrong, I've lived here in China as an expat for 8 years and when you know the rules of the game and are willing to play by them and you start out with enough advantages to begin with (like a western education!) then you can do really well.  But there are very good reasons that the vast majority of Americans would be foolish to want to trade lives with the vast majority of Chinese people.  Nevertheless, they blindly rush headlong towards that fate.

kbanginmotown
kbanginmotown

You are spot on, apr. 

Sadly, the "Ooh, shiny" Virus has infected most of the MSM.

DeeinColumbiaMD
DeeinColumbiaMD

I think you're wrong Mike. Sure 2012 was great news for the super pacs but their excesses is likely to fuel the movement to get rid of them by 2016 they'll be a thing of the past. Small dollar donors still come with a voter atrached and when it comes to getting voters to the poll there's nothing like them having made a financial commitment to make sure they show up. Romney may wish he had those small donors. He's banking on voters hating Potus but we all know voting against someone just isn't that much of a motivator when you have to go out in the rain.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

 That is what you think???  Hate works, you better know and acknowledge it. Are you an idealist or just playing one on here?

 In my state, and it is a BRIGHT RED state, they are banking on hatred to motivate us to vote. We were unequivocal about our preference during the Republican primaries, in response, the party told us that Romney had already clinched it and we did not have to vote.

Now, no one answers our questions about Romney. We ask about his record in MA, and want a response as to why that economy fared so badly in the midst of a national economic boom, and led to a loss of so many MA professionals forced to leave the state. All we are told is that Obama is bad for America and wants to destroy the economy! Night and day, day and Night.

I used to laugh at those who thought Obama was a Messiah because I knew the magnitude of work that lay ahead of him, and knew that he could not over turn the issues in a matter of 8-years. I did not think anyone would raise any strong charge against his re-election.

One of the reasons that I am so infuriated despite the fact that I am a Right leaning Conservative is precisely because of the hate filled rhetoric. It is not enough to make us go out and vote against Obama, this should be an affront but many are falling for it.  The option, in this case Romney, must be shown to be better, otherwise, it is logical to stay with the individual who has a path to recovery, albeit a slow one.  There is no indication that Romney can be a good leader. Our MA experience shows that he performed very poorly.

So yes, hate works in my state. "The anything but Obama" group of anti-intellectual, racist birther buffoons.  The idiots that rather fan racial euphemisms and loaded but unsubstantiated accusations against the president. Yes, it is working here. People are emotional, unthinking and foolish as they grab the flag and pledge their love for America. Pathetic sods.

We (Republicans in my county) got a letter recently that warned us about Obama's plan to take our guns. It was from the NRA telling us how he was working with the UN, and all the usual blarney. We have more guns that we can contain in our state. We are so armed that very few people here get robbed or mugged. I can ride my bike at anytime in a deserted place with no worries because I am armed, as are the security watchers, and that little old lady in the front yard has her 9MM, and she will use it.

Yettttttt, the anti-Obama fervor has fueled the unthinking fear that he is after our guns. yet we have so many.

Some of us have experienced Romney's governance, it was at best mediocre and we saw no indication of his much touted business acumen. I am all for elites, wealth and accepting people for what they are. However, the Romney governorship was a testament to why you should never elect an entitled smug politician whose view of himself, and low opinion of the public is so great, that he lied  with impunity about his residency in his taxes, and totally misrepresented the thrust of his much totuted venture capitalist experience.

Hate works. Romney was an awful and unpopular governor. He is awkward because he does not like people. He does not understand public service because he has no relationships with anyone in the middle class and said so in many ways in his MA tenure.

So yes, hate works. Many will be going out in droves to vote against Obama since we have no substantiated proof of Romney's abilities but have been deluged with the hatred Obama has for our country, and how he is going to take all our guns. 

http://blackrepublicanandmywor...    

DeeinColumbiaMD
DeeinColumbiaMD

Not suggesting that they're wont be some voters who fall for the hate amp; not asking any question. But those voters were probably lost to Obama anyway. Their hate goes deeper than the rhetoric which is why such utter nonsense resonates. But you make my point for me. Despite being fed the same hate filled crap you have questions. Of course PBO is not coming for your guns. But the gun manufacturers that contribute heavily to the NRA have a vested interest in spinning this tale. In 2009 the spike in gun sales was massive amp; they're hoping for a repeat.

There will be many voters like yourself that recognize the lies they're being told. Most will never bring themselves to vote for Obama but they won't vote for Romney either cause for them hate didn't trump common sense. They know they're being sold a bill if goods. This guy is running a stealth campaign. Never before has anyone tried to sneak into the white house unannounced. He won't reveal his Fundraisers, his taxes, destroyed his records as MA governor, lied about tenure at Bain either this year or in 2002, destroyed records of Olympics even though pledging transparent archive amp; now failing even in the one year of tax returns submitted to omit info about Swiss accounts. He offers no specifics about his policies - none!

Yes there will be people for whom hate us enough. Fortunately, there will be people for whom the character of the occupant of the oval office matters and Rombey just doesn't measure up.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

 Yes, thanks for your response. Some people will not vote for Obama although I see no reason not to do so. The "any thing but Obama campaign style hysteria", rankles my mind and is an insult to years I have dedicated to intellectual rigor. 

It is insulting to be bombarded with nothingness and absurd extreme hyper-partisan claims from fellow Conservatives.

They want to dissuade us from voting here.  Sometimes, you have to turn off the TV. It is drivel and empty rhetoric. Hysteria and love of country. Drivel emotive and lacking in substance.

If this continues,  and all we have is this "I am not Obama" so elect me crap, then I hope Romney loses in a landslide.

http://blackrepublicanandmywor...

Pnnto
Pnnto

"If we don’t find someway to respond to this it’s going to turn us into a plutocracy, where very few people control the public agenda"

I'm thinking Governor Strickland may have his tense wrong.

Pnnto
Pnnto

Decon-I haven't seen recent polling but a while back during the union busting stuff there certainly was.

Pnnto
Pnnto

Good local reportage sacred, thanks.

sacredh
sacredh

Kasich has very little, if any, chance of getting re-elected here. He got his head handed to him on a plate last year over his union busting miscalculation. He assumed that Ohio wanted what the Tea Party wanted and he got it wrong. The tea party has been distancing themselves from Kasich and Kasich has been distancing himself from them. It isn't working. They're linked and we haven't forgotten that they willingly climbed into bed with each other.

apr2563
apr2563

I am hoping that all the states that elected reactionary tools of wealthy private enterprise find they need to rid themselves of these promoters of serfdom.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

I'm thinking Strickland might ponder a rematch against Kasich next cycle.

Bet there's a lot of buyers' remorse in Ohio.

3xfire3
3xfire3

decon,"Bet there's a lot of buyers' remorse in Ohio."

As an Ohio resident I can say you're wrong. Kasich's approval rating is 44%and disapprove 42%, and 14% N/O.

Obama's Ohio approval rating is 47% with 43% disapproval and 10% N/O.

Kasich approval has been going up and overall most Ohioians are satified with his performance.

outsider2011
outsider2011

CU rolled back literally decades of legislation to prevent an oligarchical society from emerging, by hampering the rich and super rich's ability to buy the gov't.

Congrats. There is no longer gov't. There are just rich people, lording.

Wasn't the US created to avoid this very thing?  

gysgt213
gysgt213

The rich have been lording for quite a while now.  They were trying their best to be subtle about it. No more.

Bruce Bodner
Bruce Bodner

how is it "lording" when the top 10% of the population pays 50% of the taxes and the top 20% pay 70% ?  I think the bottom 80% are getting a lot of free stuff

outsider2011
outsider2011

 I posted a story the other day about how the Rich aren't even scared to show how they're screwing everyone over these days.

It's really pretty sad.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

 It has always been like that. This time though they are brazen in their support of Romney, someone in the Bush mold they assume will effect their desires.

There is no equity in the world but now our democracy has been co-opted by the billionaire cabal. Or better put, by the Romney billionaire Cabal. It is part of the wealth hegemony of America who demand to control the country, minds and lives of the people. Now it is brazen, thanks to Scalia and his half senile pansy in the Supreme court.

They think, just as the  British colonists did, that the average person is malleable unthinking and foolish. So they are hammering us with impunity with ads to scare us, lie to us and say nothing, other than Romney will do better. Why? The answer is because he is not Obama!! What utter rubbish!!

I look at Romney's record and understand why that is all he has to offer. His record stinks. This is a one issue election for now, economy. But Romney's hawkish views and wild embrace of the Cheney "war at all costs" doctrine concerns me. He is a neophyte and has no clue about foreign affairs, and his advisers are hawkish war mongers who have benefited from the immense wealth they obtained in the course of an unjustified and unwarranted war in Iraq.

This is crazy stuff. I hope Obama articulates his plans for the future so I can fully support him. As for Romney, the more he continues this rancid disconnected effort to connect his biz experience to job creation, especially as it failed woefully in MA, the more I know that I rather vote for the Green Party candidate than vote for him.    

http://blackrepublicanandmywor...